Lead researcher | Reader in Cultural and Social History
My research interests focus on the relationship between the fantastical imagination and the urban environment. In my previous publications I have explored urban magical beliefs and practices, environmentally-inflected supernatural narratives and popular religion, millenarianism, Victorian urban legends, nineteenth-century ghost lore, and the construction of haunted urban landscapes. I am particularly interested in the way these ideas and mentalities were used to navigate the historical experience of urban modernisation, especially as a means of subversion, adaptation and appropriation.
Senior Lecturer in the Portsmouth School of Architecture
My specialism is in historic building conservation. My research interests include the experience of absence at historic sites, and how traces and fragments bring the past into the sensed present through imaginative promptings. As a historic environment conservationist, my concern is with how conservation practice might allow these spectral presences to continue to dwell at the site, so that the affective force of the place remains or is enhanced.
Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of Media and Performing Arts
I am course leader for undergraduate Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth. I also teach on MA Creative Writing and hold a PhD on the subject of ‘divine inspiration’ in literature. I run a research project called ‘Ink:Well’ – Life-writing for Wellbeing. My teaching specialisms include fairy tales and philosophy, epic poetry and historical novels, play writing and contemporary literary fiction.
Senior Lecturer in Media and Creative Writing in the School of Media and Performing Arts
Tom Sykes is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth. His research interests include political psychogeography, eco-dystopian imagery in New Wave science fiction novels and Orientalist literary constructions of Manila, the Philippines as an urban space. Tom’s academic reviews and papers have appeared in the journals Social Identities, Children’s Literature Review and Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. His travelogues and feature articles have appeared in the Telegraph, Times, Scotsman, Private Eye, New Statesman and New Internationalist. His ‘political travelogue’ of the Philippines, The Punisher’s Paradise: Journeys in Duterte’s Philippines, will be published later in 2018.
Principal Lecturer in the School of Creative Technologies
I am a Principal Lecturer and Section Leader in the School of Creative Technologies at the University of Portsmouth and Educational Advisor to TIGA. Before joining the university I was Head of Design at Rebellion and spent over 20 years working as a designer, producer and manager in the games industry (Quicksilva, Sega, Electronic Arts, Microprose, Activision, SCI, Nintendo, Climax etc), variously as freelancer, employee and company director. I also wrote scripts for 2000 AD and Sonic the Comic, made holograms and have worked on board game designs for Hasbro. In 2004 I held the first Women in Games Conference. I founded the Advanced Games Research Group in 2006 and recently completed my PhD, researching ambient gameplay.
Research Assistant and PTHP Lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
My recent research has focused on the history and culture of Los Angeles, reflecting upon how social and spatial conditions affected urban experience. I am particularly concerned with how individuals navigate the city’s disorientating topography – its diverse neighbourhoods, jurisdictional borders, and racial and social boundaries – and with how the psychological consequences of these conditions were represented. More broadly, my research interests lie in urban studies, twentieth-century literature and film, mobility studies and the history of criminalistics.
PhD student and Tutor in the Centre for European and International Studies Research
My PhD (started October 2016) examines monstrous depictions of popular protest in Britain from 1780 to 1850. The project uses a multidisciplinary methodology, drawing inspiration from studies of monsters and monstrosity across time periods and cultures, but is centred in cultural history. In particular, I am interested in the ways in which monstrous characteristics are afforded to places, spaces or aspects of the environment, and how this impacts upon the identity of people who lived and worked in those areas. More generally, my research interests include studies of folklore, mythology, magic and the supernatural.
PhD student in the School of Media and Performing Arts
After a career teaching English and Media I began a PhD in Creative Writing (2015). In and around the genres of gothic and magical realism, I explore shifting perceptions of reality within my characters – situating them both rurally and in urban environments, here and abroad. A novel in progress, based on familial schizophrenia, forms the praxis element for my PhD. Research includes: social positioning of the insane, throughout history, as well as representations of madness within literature and, essentially, how these align with notions of the uncanny. My literary reach includes mythologies, folklore, Victorian gothic and contemporary supernatural fiction.
PhD student in the Centre for Studies in Literature
My doctoral research focuses on the autobiographies of nineteenth-century magicians and the analogous representations of fictional magicians and conjuring in Victorian literature. It explores the links between performance magic and identity, domesticity, criminality, and the influence of phantasmagoria and magical apparatus upon Victorian urban spaces and cities. My other research interests include occulture, magical realism, second-generation Romantic poetry and fantasy fiction.