- PhD in English Literature (Sussex)
- MA in Creative Writing, the Arts and Education (Sussex)
- BA in English Literature and Philsophy (Open)
- BSc in Biology (Sussex)
Poetry, short story, the novel, literary fiction, fictional auto/biography, literary biography, life writing, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Examples of courses currently or recently taught
- Introduction to Poetry
A core module covering the key figures, movements and tendencies in English language poetry and poetic forms. Topics include couplets, the sonnet, Emily Dickenson, open form, Modernist poetry, close reading, modern American poetry, The Movement, contemporary poetry.
- Foundation Workshop in Creative Writing
A first-year creative writing core module taught over two terms and covering the following topics: avoiding cliche, developing character, developing narrative drive, the balance between show and tell, writing as interrogation, beginnings, form, dialogue, considering the reader, experimentation, point of view, voice, sound and sense, imagery, width and focus, redrafting, endings. Texts studied (prose, poetry and essays) include Shakespeare, Plath, Hughes, Carver, Chekhov, Pound and Foster-Wallace as well as numerous contemporary writers.
- Creative Writing Workshop
The second-year creative writing core module, split between poetry and prose and covering the following topics: Poetry - imagery and metaphor, rhyme and near-rhyme, repetitive forms, the sonnet; Prose - setting, character creation, characterisation, developing plot, advanced dialogue. Text studied include: Jo Shapcott, Vicki Feaver, Paul Durcan, David Constantine, Sylvia Plath, Fleur Adcock, Paul Muldoon, Simon Armitage, Derek Mahon, Dylan Thomas, Elizabeth Bishop, E.M. Forster, Hilary Mantel, Michael Cunningham, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Penelope Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Claire Keegan.
Current topics of PhD supervision
- Second World War novel focused on internment
- Korean-Canadian novel on multi-generational trauma
- Young Adult novel about child smuggling
- Literary fiction about Caribbean sex tourism
- Fictional biography of Roget
Principal areas of research
Early Modern literary biography
With a primary focus on Christopher Marlowe, I have published articles re-evaluating the literary and historical evidence used to construct Marlowe’s accepted biography, looking in particular in the way that his scandalous posthumous reputation has coloured interpretations of his personality: as violent, for example. I am also researching, and have published articles on, minor writers connected to Marlowe’s social circle. In 2011 and 2014, I was joint winner of the Calvin & Rose G Hoffmann Prize for a distinguished publication on Christopher Marlowe. In November 2015 I delivered the inaugural Annual Christopher Marlowe Lecture in London for The Marlowe Society.
Shakespeare Authorship Question
The critical component of my PhD was the first doctoral degree in the UK (and the second worldwide) to focus on the Shakespeare authorship question, and I continue to research and publish on this topic. I am currently compiling a comprehensive online compendium, Shakespeare: The Evidence, detailing the evidence, arguments and counter-arguments marshaled on both sides of this perennial (and often heated) debate. I have given papers on the authorship question in numerous venues, from the Institute of Ideas and Shakespeare’s Globe in London, to Queen’s University Belfast, to the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship in Ashland, Oregon. I am Director of Research at the Shakespearean Authorship Trust.
Writing is a form of research which sometimes requires additional research of its own. I continue to develop in my practice as a writer, working both in literary fiction and in other genres, such as drama. Debut novel The Marlowe Papers (2012) was winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize, joint winner of the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award and long-listed for the Bailey’s (formerly the Orange) Prize. Adapted for the stage by myself in conjunction with director Nicola Haydn, the 5-star debut run (January 2016) received rave reviews. An opera has also been optioned. Second novel Devotion was published August 2015 to good critical notices in the press including The Guardian and the TLS; the paperback and US edition are published April 2016.
Not the Usual Grasses Singing: A Journey Around the Isle of Sheppey
Barber, Ros. 2005. Not the Usual Grasses Singing: A Journey Around the Isle of Sheppey. Four Shores. ISBN 978-0955046704
Exploring biographical fictions: the role of imagination in writing and reading narrative
Barber, Ros. 2010. Exploring biographical fictions: the role of imagination in writing and reading narrative. Rethinking History, 14(2), pp. 165-187. ISSN 1364-2529