My doctoral research focused on the animal and environmental histories of Bristol Zoo Gardens from 1835. This work represents the first extensive academic history of a provincial zoo, examining the vast array of human relationships with animals and their wild worlds in modernity. My work engaged with themes at the very forefront of animal, environmental, and imperial histories. In particular, I examined the human commodification of nature, its transformation into objects of science and spectacle, the creation of ‘almost-people’, animals in death (and dying), and human understandings of the world in an era of ecological impoverishment. Most significantly, I worked on the ways in which captve creatures might be said to have 'agency' in a context often perceived to be wholly oppressive. This work followed on from my earlier study of the phenomenon of celebrity beasts in Victorian culture, and human-nature conflict on the Australian frontier in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
My interests broadly encompass animal and environmental histories, especially in British-American contexts. I am also interested in imperial histories, with a particular focus on frontier encounters and subaltern groups. My work on Bristol Zoo has also led to a growing interest in local histories.
Alongside research on the multisensory historiues of human-animal encounters, I am currently working on a project investigating the connections between animal tourism and travel technologies. I have a forthcoming article on wildlife and automobility and am presently researching the historyof British scuba diving.
Also emerging form these interests have been a conference on the theme of Animals and Empire in 2013; the curation of an exhibition by the same name for the Animal History Museum in Los Angeles in 2014; and work as part of the REACT Object Sandbox cohort. I am also web editor and chair of the interdisciplinary international group of scholars - 'Beastly Histories'.
Media engagements include an appearance on BBC 4’s Timeshift and consultation for an episode of Great British Railway Journeys. I have also appeared on Points West and have recently consulted on the BBC's 'What are zoos for?' iWonder project.
I have a wealth of teaching experience. During the 2016-17 session I shall be teaching:
In the past I have taught:
I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations and supervised individual studies