Birkbeck College, University of London
Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature
Birkbeck staff profile here.
I am a cultural historian with a broad focus on technology and posthumanism. I specialise in reproductive health, reproductive technologies, assisted reproduction (IUI and IVF), donor conception, and bioethics. I mainly work on 20th and 21st century literature and culture. My work is interdisciplinary and sits in the juncture between literary studies and medical humanities.
My current research project is called Cyborg Conception (for which I hold 3 separate grants and a book contract). Cyborg Conception focuses on cultural responses to donor conception, solo motherhood by choice, and assisted reproduction.
My forthcoming monograph contracted with Palgrave combines creative (lived experience) and critical writing on solo motherhood via gamete donation.
Here, is a brief overview of select work. For research interests go here; for a full resume please contact me. Note: I was on maternity leave Feb 2019-Feb 2020. From October 2020-October 2021 I will be on funded research leave (ISSF).
MA by Research: English
BA Hons: English (1st)
Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
Fellow HEA (2017)
Select publications and research projects
Recent Articles (2021-22)
Forthcoming: 'Writing Cyborg Conception: Solo Mothers By Choice In Contemporary Fiction on the "Single Mother" TBA 2022 (part of the ISSF/Wellcome Cyborg Conception funded project)
'Fatherlessness, sperm donors and ‘so what?’ parentage: arguing against the immorality of donor conception through ‘world literature’, Medical Humanities, 25 April 2022. doi: 10.1136/medhum-2021-012328 (part of the ISSF/Wellcome Cyborg Conception funded project)
'We All Fall Down: Nuclear Families and Post-Nuclear Worlds', Berlinale Film Festival (2022)
''Plan A''. Donor Conception Network Journal, 25 (2021), pp. 13-14 https://www.dcnetwork.org/sites/dcnetwork.org/files/DCN%20Journal%2025%20Winter%202021.pdf
Forthcoming: Cyborg Conception: Cultural and Critical Responses to Solo Motherhood by Choice (under contract with Palgrave Macmillan (due late 2023)
Forthcoming: Contemporary Posthumanism: Transcending the Human in Contemporary Posthuman Literature, Media, and Culture (TBA) (on hold due to maternity leave and ISSF project)
Chapters in edited collections
'British Science Fiction 1990s-2010: Technology and Society', Blackwell/Wiley Encyclopedia of Contemporary British and Irish Literature, ed. by Richard Bradford (Blackwell/Wiley, 2020)
'Cyberpunk Photography and Art', The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture, ed. by Graham J. Murphy et al (Routledge, 2019)
‘Growing up in the 21st Century: Pretty Little Liars and their Pretty Little Devices’, in Girl Talk: The Influence of Girls’ Series Books on American Popular Culture, ed. by LuElla D’Amico (New York: Lexington Books, 2016).
Waste: Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion, ed. by Grace Halden and Alice Burks (Open Library of Humanities Special Collection, 2018):https://olh.openlibhums.org/collections/special/waste-disposability-decay-and-depletion/ (this is a rolling publication)
Concerning Evil, ed. by Grace Halden and Gabriela Madlo (Oxford: IDP, 2013).
Current Research Areas
2022. 'Effecting Change: Café for Solo Parents by Choice', Being Human Festival, November. Co-organiser alongside Dr Harriet Barratt. Tickets sold: 105.
Cyborg Conception Project - Funded
2022-2023. Experimental Humanities Collaborative Network (EHCN) funding for Award: Community-Facing Events. For: Anonymity and Donor Conception in the Digital Age.
2022-2023. ISSF Wellcome full funding for project: Independent Family Planning: Choosing Solo Motherhood through Gamete Donation. Summary: Through co-production with the donor conception community, I aim to produce an 8-page A5 booklet on solo motherhood by choice to be shared with fertility clinics specialising in donor conception. The objective of this booklet is to highlight to industry professionals the lived experiences of SMBC at the stages of family planning, choosing donor gametes, embarking on the conception journey, pregnancy, and birth. More information here:
2020-2021. ISSF Wellcome full funding for 12 months. Project: 'Cyborg Conception: technologized reproduction and posthuman families in literary and cultural imagination'. Summary: this project will intervene in the interdisciplinary field of the medical humanities by understanding the cultural mediation of assisted reproduction through literature since 1978. Across three key genres, ‘Cyborg Conception’ analyses how literature forms part of the reimagined ‘entangled’ medical humanities (as articulated by Fitzgerald and Callard), interrogating and even ‘reanimating’ medical understandings of, and discourses around, assisted reproduction. More information here.
2017-Current. WASTE (with Alice Burks). Event: ‘Waste: A Symposium. Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion’, 21 September. An interdisciplinary event exploring representations of waste, both material and metaphorical, within contemporary culture. Publication secured with Open Library Humanities (peer reviewed, for 2018). Funding awarded by Birkbeck’s Research Committee.
2016-Current. ‘The Contemporary: An Exhibition’. This is an annual exhibition conceptualized for Arts Week 2016 and 2017. I lead the exhibition and work with Birkbeck postgraduate students to present a rich mixture of art, photography and dramatic performance on the theme of Art and Politics in the contemporary. Funding granted by Arts Week Committee.
2014-15. The ArtLess Group. This project involved researching ways to unite the humanities and
sciences to promote new, innovative, collaborative research in the twenty-first century. I was invited onto the team to manage events and public outreach, and to conduct, facilitate, and disseminate new interdisciplinary research. One of the project’s outreach programmes included creating research exhibitions for Bury Art Museum and for tour in Japan. AHRC funded group.
2015. Critical Waves project member. Within this role, I was invited onto the team as one of six project leaders developing panel discussions and radio broadcasts for Resonance FM and the Institute of Contemporary Arts. The aim of this project was to encourage further research in media and facilitate the global reach of research. The project’s events were pedagogical and enabled young researchers to consider the social importance and relevance of voice and the power of research dissemination in the twenty-first century. AHRC funded group.
2017 ‘Ruin and Rebuild: Exhibition of Urban Dereliction’, Being Human Festival, 25 November 2017.
2017- First Contact Research Group. A research cluster at Birkbeck seeking to explore modern narratives about a diversity of contemporary issues. Intended outputs include publications, grants, and international collaborations. Founding member.
2015: Technology for Teaching and Learning. Representative for The Satellite Group (2015-2019), subcommittee of Birkbeck’s Teaching and Quality Enhancement Committee (focused on technology-enhanced learning). I have done a series of talks/workshops/training initiatives for Birkbeck on the subject of technology enhanced learning.
2021: Winner: Best Dissertation/Project Supervisor for Birkbeck Heroes (Birkbeck Students' Union)
2018: High commendation for 'Ruin and Rebuild' at the Public Engagement Awards
Honorary Roles / Membership
2021: Volunteer for the Donor Conception Network
2021: Professional membership: Donor Conception Network
2021: Professional membership: SFRA
2020-Current: Open Access Sub-Committee at Birkbeck.
2020-Current: Digital Education Sub-Committee at Birkbeck.
2017-Current: Fellow Higher Education Academy
2017-2018: Online Editor for Alluvium
2015- 2019: Representative for The Satellite Group, subcommittee of Birkbeck’s Teaching and Quality Enhancement Committee (focused on technology-enhanced learning).
2015- Current: Reviewer: Science Fiction Film and Television.
Select Interviews and Talks
2017 ‘Waste: A Symposium. Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion’, 21 September. An interdisciplinary event exploring representations of waste, both material and metaphorical, within contemporary culture. Publication secured with Open Library Humanities (peer reviewed, for 2018). Funding awarded by Birkbeck’s Research Committee.
2022 'Fatherlessness, sperm donors and ‘so what?’ parentage', Critical Creative Innovative Thinking at Aga Khan University, August 18. Invited speaker.
2022 Lecture for EMC, 'Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Reproductive Futures and Bioethics'. June 13. Invited speaker.
2021 'Nuclear Memories - An International Comparison', Roundtable. October 22. Invited speaker.
2021 'Barren Planets and the Ovum-like Death Star: Family, Fertility and Assisted Reproduction in Star Wars (1977-2019)', SFRA, June 21.
2018 Creative Climate Symposium, May 8th. Invited speaker.
2018 ‘Technology for Assessment and Extra-Curricular Extension’, Centre for Transformational Practice in Learning and Teaching. 31 January. Invited speaker.
2017 Roundtable discussion at Birkbeck for Post-War to the Contemporary, December. Invited speaker.
2017 ‘American Crisis’, Waterstones Gower Street, May. Invited speaker.
2017 ‘Disability, Equality and Digital Technology in Teaching and Assessment’, Arts Week, Birkbeck, May. Invited speaker.
2017 ‘Ordinary Digital Humanities’, Arts Week, Birkbeck, May. Invited speaker.
2016 Talk for Birkbeck’s Teaching Day, ‘Using Panopto for Assessment’, December. Invited speaker.
2016 Roundtable discussion at Birkbeck on science fiction, December. Invited speaker.
2016 Talk for Institute of Contemporary Arts, ‘Exploration: Ruined Things’, May. Invited speaker.
2015 Interviewed by Workers Educational Association, February. Invited speaker.
2015 Roundtable discussion at Birkbeck on science fiction, May. Invited speaker.
2015 Lecture for EMC's Dystopia, Speculative Fiction, ‘Future Fiction’, December. Invited speaker.
2014 ‘Ascending or Descending? Ideas of Disability and the Singularity in Stargate Universe’, Current Research in Speculative Fiction, University of Liverpool, June.
2014 ‘Technophobia and Technoparanoia: Looms, Luddites, and Laptops’, Fear and Loathing, Kent, May.
2014 '(Future) Apocalypse Now', Memories of the Future, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, May.
2014 'Light Bulbs: Theories and Conspiracies and Representation’, Holding things in common: the vernacular, everyday objects and memory, Birkbeck, May.
2013 ‘The Pursuit of Legal Rights for AGI in the Speculative Future’, Beyond AI 2013, University of West Bohemia. Fully Funded Speaker; receiver of funding for best paper.
2013 ‘The dominance of technology in Gravity’s Rainbow: the light bulb and the cybernetic apocalypse’, Lines, Legacies, Anniversaries: International Pynchon Week, Durham University, August.
2013 ‘Gender in Virtual Worlds: Masking of Identity and Intention’, Ignite© Gender violence and virtual worlds: brave new world(s) of regulation?, Open University, September.
2013 ‘The Digitalisation of Reader Response’, E-reading between the lines: 21st century literature, digital platforms and literacies, Brighton University, July.
2013 ‘The Technologically Rapine’, Current Research in Speculative Fiction, The University of Liverpool, June.
2013 The ‘bare life’ of the human in conflict contexts: the static behaviour and group movement of war zombie’, Zombies: Eating, Walking & Performance, Plymouth University, April.
2013 ‘Technology, psychological doubling and genocide. How remote technology facilitates evil acts as explored through science fiction after World War II’, Evil and Human Wickedness 14th Global Conference, Interdisciplinary.net, April. Partially Funded speaker.
2013 ‘Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: projected fictional landscapes based on the memory of nuclear holocaust’, Memories of Conflict, Conflict of Memories International Conference, University College London, February.
2012 ‘Apocalyptic imagination: the fear of a nuclear driven apocalyptic event within American Cold War literature’, Two Cultures or Co-evolution? Science and Literature 1800-Present, Keele University, May.
Image and Film
2010 - present
2010 - present