- 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
- Korean-Canadian novel on multi-generational trauma
- Literary fiction about domestic abuse
- Literary fiction about Caribbean sex tourism
- Global novel employing entrelacement inspired by the works of David Mitchell
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 also research writers connected to Marlowe’s social circle. An article entitled ‘Was Marlowe Faustus?’ exploring Marlowe’s links with other writers was joint winner of the 2014 Calvin & Rose G Hoffman Prize. In November 2015 I delivered the inaugural Annual Christopher Marlowe Lecture in London for The Marlowe Society.
Shakespeare and authorship attribution
I research the veracity of arguments used on both sides of the Shakespeare authorship question. An ongoing project, Shakespeare: The Evidence, details the evidence, arguments and counter-arguments marshalled on both sides of this perennial (and often heated) debate. I am the author and presenter of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) Introduction to Who Wrote Shakespeare. Recently I have utilised my background in science and IT to become involved in stylometry (also known as computational stylistics), examining the methods used to attribute Shakespeare plays (in part) to other hands, and anonymous plays to Shakespeare. My article ‘Big Data, Little Certainty: Shakespeare, Marlowe and Henry VI’ was joint winner of the 2018 Calvin & Rose G Hoffman Prize.
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, including poetry, drama, and stand-up comedy. 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) Women’s Fiction Prize. It was also winner of the 2011 Calvin & Rose G Hoffman Prize. Second novel Devotion (2015), published August 2015, was shortlisted for the Encore Award. Two collections of poetry with Carcanet, How Things Are On Thursday (2004) and Material (2008), led to the inclusion of the poem ‘Material’ in Faber’s Poems of the Decade (2010) and subsequently the Edexcel ‘A’ Level syllabus.
Barber, Ros. 2005. Not the Usual Grasses Singing: A Journey Around the Isle of Sheppey. Four Shores. ISBN 978-0955046704
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