My primary research interest is literature and cognition, especially in the poetry of the early modern period, but including a broad chronological scope from Old English literature to modern speculative and hypertext fiction. I am interested in the history of mathematics, especially calculus and decision theory; circulating credit as a theological metaphor in the seventeenth century; islands, cities, and distorted topographies; riddles, paradoxes, and the mapping of one kind of ignorance onto another; fiction and technology; and methods of modelling the inconceivable. All these topics relate to the idea that knowledge acquisition is often a non-cumulative, nonlinear, alogical process, in which the mind must endorse certain imprecisions in order to conceive of otherwise inaccessible truth. I am interested in the role of literature in both demonstrating and generating this process.
My MA dissertation, That Immense Disproportion, considers the problem of conceiving of infinity, and the gulf between imagination and intellection, in the works of Nicholas of Cusa, Thomas Harriot, Henry More, Thomas Traherne and Walter Charleton. It also explores the use of geometry, from Nicholas to Descartes to Hobbes to Merleau-Ponty, in demonstrating the limits of human intuition and cognition. My PhD dissertation, The Discomposed Mind, considers the strange and ruined topographies of riddle and riddle-like texts, with chapters on the Exeter riddles, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Andrew Marvell, Margaret Cavendish, and Lucy Hutchinson. It focuses on historical moments populated by ruins, and examines the riddling literature which responds to them.
- “To snare among the briars”: sensory data and two early literary influences on In Parenthesis, Journal of Modern Literature, Volume 43, Number 4, Summer 2020.
- Housel and hyhtplega: The Play of the Eucharist in the Exeter Book, Neophilologus, 2019.