Research Projects


Children's FICTION

I gained my PhD from Lancaster University in 2016. My thesis explored twenty-first-century children's Gothic literature and film, incorporating theories from literary and cultural studies. My first monograph, Twenty-First-Century Children's Gothic: From Wanderer to Nomadic Subject (Edinburgh University Press) develops this research into a completely new way of reading children’s Gothic. I reject the pedagogical model of children’s literature criticism, which assess works based on what or how they teach the child, and instead draw on the theories of Deleuze and Guattari, Rosi Braidotti and Benedict Spinoza. I am working on a second monograph called Speculative Entanglements: The Dark Matter of Children’s Fantastika. It combines science, philosophy and ecology to explore fiction for children and young adults.

I am also involved in a project that explores science and children’s literature, organised by Dr Emily Alder at Edinburgh Napier University. Find us @ChildLitSci


Post colonialism, Diversity and Decolonisation

I am interested in the intersection of imperialism, colonialism, post colonialism and the Gothic. I co-edited the collection, Telling it Slant: Critical Approaches to Helen Oyeyemi with Dr Sarah Ilott.

Sarah and I have also collaborated on the work of Nnedi Okorafor when we were asked to present a keynote address at the Global Fantastika conference in 2016.

My recent research explores how contemporary writers use the Gothic to expose and counter the legacy of imperialism in Britain today. Based on this, I devised a series of workshops for schools that use Gothic fiction to engage students with aspects of history usually neglected in the classroom. I also delivered some of my findings as part of the CILIP and Youth Libraries Group annual conference in September, 2018 and delivered CPD to librarians and teachers in Greater Manchester.


I'm a member of the Manchester Game Studies Network and an avid analogue gamer. I play and organize horror-themed live-action role-playing events. My interest in Gothic, philosophy and games combine in publications that explore the transformation of space and encounters with “objects” in LARP. Some of this work has been written in collaboration with Dr Laura Mitchell, the founder of Seriously Learned. Laura and I ran a LARP in the library at the sixth annual Gothic Manchester Festival. With Laura and Dr Paul Wake, I spoke about “what we can learn from games” at the 2018 Tabletop Gaming Convention in London. My work in this area now focuses on the materiality of games and play.

Twenty-First-Century Children’s Gothic takes us on a tour through some of the dark spaces of the early-twenty-first century, and is written with vigour and excitement as well as scholarly accuracy.
— David Punter

Impact and Engagement WORK

In June and July, MCYS provided over 70 free books to young people in Greater Manchester as part of my book club project. I’m pleased to say that from September 2019, the project is being supported by the wonderful Siobhan Dowd trust, and we will be organising YA book clubs in more schools throughout the region. If you’re a librarian or a teacher and you are interested in how we can work with your school, please get in touch!

Other recent impact and engagement events include a panel discussion on Folk Horror at the 2nd Annual Folk Horror Festival in Manchester, a lecture on women in horror cinema at Screened MCR, a talk on witchcraft for the British Library Magic and Enchantment Study Day and at Lancaster University’s Feminist Movie Mondays. I also recently hosted a Q+A with gothic writers, Laura Purcell and Stuart Turton at Manchester’s Deansgate Waterstones and introduced a screening of the cult horror film The Seventh Victim for @BiggerFilms. I also presented at Gothic Nature II, a conference hosted by the University of Roehampton. I help deliver the annual Gothic Manchester Festival and work with Manchester BID to enhance the annual “Halloween in the City” festival.

Upcoming events

Gothic Manchester Festival VI

Saturday 12th October - Bad Bugs: Zombie Outbreak! A workshop for people aged 11 and up. Free tickets here.

Saturday 19th October - Gothic Games Jam! Organised by PhD students, Charlotte Gislam and Jon Garrad. Free tickets here.

Saturday 26th October - The Witching Way performance at the Printworks, Manchester. Free tickets here.

Sunday 27th October - Writing Gothic Fiction with Catherine Johnson and Chris Priestley. A workshop for Young Adults and writers of Young Adult Fiction. Free tickets here.

Wednesday 12th February - LARP: Monsters, Props and Philosophy - a public seminar for the Manchester Game Studies Network.

Wednesday 19th February - Europe and the Child: Crisis, Activism, Culture - a multi-disciplinary symposium. The CFP for this event is currently open - get in touch if you have an idea for a paper or presentation.