I am Associate Professor/Reader in English literature at the Department of Language Studies. From 2016 I am also Director of Studies at the PhD level.
Teaching and Supervision
I teach predominantly literature and cultural studies at all levels, from undergraduate to postgraduate. At present, I am the main supervisor for PhD candidates Eva Wijman and Nuno Marques, and co-supervisor for Spoke Wintersparv and Julia Pennlert (Department of culture and media studies). Previous supervision: Tove Solander (PhD degree in March 2015) and Anette Svensson (co-supervision; PhD degree in March 20120).
My research falls into four main strands: travel literature, fan studies, literature and cognition, and ecocriticism. These strands may seem disparate but they are joined in various ways in my work. Intertextuality unites my dissertation work with analyses of fan fiction, fan fiction constitutes the primary material in my examinations of cognitive processes, and speculative fiction returns to varying degrees in all four strands, at present in examinations of postapocalyptic fictions approached from ecocritical perspectives.
In my 2000 dissertation The Second Journey (revised 2010), I focused on contemporary trips in the footsteps of an earlier traveler. The original travelogue works as an explicit map guiding the second traveler not only to a geographical destination but to a perception of authenticity. More information here. The form of the second journey draws attention to imitation and repetition: aspects that are commonly played down in travel literature, but descriptions often work to transform places that are already mapped (figuratively and literally) into partly new landscapes.
Following my dissertation work I was a member of the research project Foreign North and contunied work on travel literature from the long nineteenth century (see publication list). I continue to have an interest in how northern and Arctic areas are depicted in fiction, particularly how ghosts, gods and monsters feature into speculative fiction. My most important publications in this area are the anthology chapter "The Times of Men, Mysteries and Monsters: The Terror and Franklin's Last Expedition" (2010) and the article "Abnormal Fears: the Queer Arctic in Michelle Paver's Dark Matter" (2017).
I have for many years worked with fan fiction: inline-published stories starting from already existing fictional worlds. The project FAN(G)S: The vampire in contemporary fan fiction was funded by the Swedish Research Council 2011-2014. Together with my project partner Malin Isaksson I analyzed fan engagement in three contemporary vampire worlds and examined how fanfic authors on the one hand retained strong intertextual links to the source texts on both character- and plot levels, on the other expressed different forms of resistance to it. The project resulted in a large number of articles and anthology chapters (see publication list) and a monograph was published in 2013 (Jefferson N. C.: McFarland). The work with fan fiction has sparked off an interest in theoretical and methodological issues connected to paratexts as they appear in digital archives. Key publications here are "The Paratext of Fan Fiction" (2015) and "Paratextual Navigation as a Research Method" (2016).
In my current research, together with Van Leavenworth, I continue to focus on fan practices of different kinds, but approach these from a cognitive perspective. A central idea in cognitive literary and cultural theory is that humans have a unique ability to become immersed in stories and to fill in narrative gaps concerning characters' dreams, thoughts and goals. The result is a form of mind-reading process in which various narrative details make a reader/viewer interpret a character's emotions. Among publications here, see "A Truth Universally Acknowledged? Pride and Prejudice and Mind-Reading Fans" (2015) and "Fragmented Fiction: Storyworld Construction and the Quest for Meaning in Justin Cronin's The Passage" (2017).
I am also currently interested in futuristic narratives in which the destruction of humanity is caused by environmental disasters. Fiction gives us opportunities to think about and to an extent handle questions about melting polar ice caps, pandemics and resource depletion. From a cognitive perspective I want to identify how the apocalypse produces narrative gaps in fictions, and examine the details that help the reader fill them. Visions of the future automatically entail a certain amount of cognitive estrangement, while simultaneously encouraging the reader to draw parallels to her/his own situation and environmental threats. Within this strand of my research I want to continue my studies of character construction and examine how speculative fiction and the postapocalyptic genre constitute specific challenges in these processes.