I was born and brought up in West Yorkshire, England, and educated at the local primary school and selective state high school. I studied at the London School of Economics (LSE), part of the University of London, where I completed an Honours degree in Sociology and a Ph.D. in the Sociology of Literature.
I have subsequently taught at the LSE, the University of Canberra, Goldsmiths’ College London and the University of Leeds.I was appointed Professor of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at Monash University in 2000 and Professor of English and Comparative Literature in 2012. I was appointed Professor Emeritus when I retired at the beginning of 2013.
I have also held visiting appointments in the Theory, Culture and Society Centre at Nottingham Trent University, the School of English at the University of Liverpool and the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick.
My academic interests include contemporary cultural theory, the sociology of literature, seventeenth-century English literature, English and French literary utopianism and European science fiction.
In 2013 I was Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack Visiting Professor of Australian Studies in the Institut für Englische Philologie at the Freie Universität Berlin. My work has been published in English in Australia, India, the USA and the UK and has been translated into German, Portuguese, Chinese, Farsi and Korean.