Personal profile

Research interests

I have always been interested in the way a society punishes its criminals, and there is no greater penalty than the penalty of death. While many countries still execute offenders, in the westernised world the USA stands alone. More specifically though it is the Southern states which continue to give death sentences, with Texas being responsible for around one third of all executions. As such, my own research has focused on the ‘Lone Star State’, exploring the myths and memories which underpin the Texan self-identity. In addition, I am also interested in the use of qualitative and interpretative methodologies with a focus on narrative analysis, and have recently published on the use of museums as storied spaces of narrativity.

Approach to teaching

I teach on a variety of modules at both undergraduate and post graduate level. Three of my favourite modules to teach though, are Cross Cultural Criminology (which is about international issues and includes, for example, the death penalty, the Scandinavian prison system, American gun crime and Mexican drug cartels); Criminology in Action (a module about professions within the UK Criminal Justice System such as policing, probation, youth justice and working in the third sector) and Explaining Crime and Criminals (which offers a critical consideration of how the media represent, for example, violent female offenders and so-called ‘natural born killers’).

I am passionate about learning and teaching, which means I strive to find new ways of engaging my students. For example, I regularly use contemporary cases in order to apply what can often be theoretical or conceptual debates; I source relevant video clips to help contextualise the issues we discuss and I strive for variety in my seminars (quizzes, small group discussions, worksheets, large group debates) in order to accommodate and complement the different learning styles of my students.

In addition, I regularly take student feedback on board to change and adapt my approach to learning and teaching. This feedback can relate to key readings I have set, activities I have planned or topics covered in the models I co-ordinate. Broadly speaking, this approach seems to be effective, as I regularly receive excellent feedback from students and was recently nominated for a teaching award.

Supervisory Interests

I have experience of supervising undergraduate, masters and PhD students. The projects these students have undertaken have been very varied, and have included topics such as: the importance of good food and nutrition to people in prison; parental strategies to reduce the risk of online bullying; narrative construction of political speeches about gun crime in America; reasons for abolition of the death penalty in specific US states; the Scandinavian prison system; the experience of offenders families and the Old Police Cells Museum in Brighton. The majority of my students have used qualitative methods which have included focus groups, interviews (both in-person and online) and ethnographic observation. In addition, many of my students have undertaken analyses of cultural products such as films, documentaries, news reports and exhibitions.

With regards to future projects, I would be happy to consider any application or idea although my own research interests include punishment and prison; narrative; the death penalty; museums and exhibitions; cultural memories and cultural forgetting and cultural comparisons.  

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor, BA Hons Psychology and Criminology , University of Brighton

Master, MA Criminology and Criminal Justice , University of Brighton

PhD, Don't Mess With Texas: The Cultural Life of Punishment in Lone Star Museums , University of Kent


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