I am a Senior Lecturer in English here at Manchester Met. Much of my undergraduate teaching currently feeds off, and back into, my research specialisms on post-war/contemporary literature and critical theory, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between writing and place. I also have a secondary, but inextricably interlinked, interest in Romantic poetry. However, my enthusiasm for discussing the ideas and issues raised by the reading of literature – and particularly poetry - has meant that I’ve taught on units covering a diverse spectrum of texts from a wide range of historical periods.
My research concentrates on literary geographies: I am interested in how writers represent spaces, places and landscapes in their creative practices; and I am similarly interested in the relationship between literary criticism and geographical thinking. This interdisciplinary researchn informs my teaching on the Place Writing pathway on the Creative Writing MA/MFA in the Manchester Writing School, as well as a third-year critical-creative unit dedicated to ‘Writing & Place’.
I am also Admissions Tutor for the Department of English and Creative Writing. There’s a good chance, then, that you might have seen mefrantically running around at one of our Open or Visit Days!
Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. The notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals. The poetry of John Clare. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The Lonely Londoners by Samuel Selvon. The poetry criticism of Seamus Heaney. Rodinsky’s Room by Rachel Lichtenstein and Iain Sinclair. Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. Dart by Alice Oswald. The landscape writings of Richard Skelton. These works were first encountered at various stages of my life: at school; as a student; and since I graduated. All of these works, however, have radically unsettled – in a positive way – my preconceptions of what literature can be and what literature can do. When teaching, then, I always want to open up space for students to enjoy similar reading experiences.
Alongside this, I spent several years, after graduating, working in the field of literature development: first at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere; and then in the City of York. These experiences brought home to me that literature matters in what Michel De Certeau calls ‘the practice of everyday life’. As a lecturer, I am determined to give students the critical tools and support which will enable them to maximise their academic potential; and, at the same time, all of my teaching is informed by the knowledge that our university campus is not set apart from the rest of the city. In other words, the texts that we discuss in seminars are invariably shaped by the world; but, crucially, those texts also shape the ways that we see, understand and remake that world.
In seminars, I always find myself coming back to two key and overlapping pieces of advice. First, the practice of literary criticism relies on the willingness to raise questions. We will always empower you, then, to ask questions: of literary texts; of critical theories; and, ultimately, of the world in which we find ourselves. Second, the practice of literary criticism relies on the willingness to articulate ideas: we, as lecturers, are always excited and energised to hear and to read what you think about the literary texts and critical theories with which we engage. Before all of this, though, you need to read. And to read. And to read some more.
I passionately believe that seminars and workshops are exciting learning spaces in which students should feel free to test readings and to share critical thinking. As a result, I very much hope that I create learning environments that give students the confidence to exchange thoughts and to play around with ideas. At the same time, though, I am alert to the fact that different students learn in different ways. It is vitally important, that we – as university lecturers – encourage students to reflect on their own learning practices and, by extension, to feel able to articulate these reflections. Ultimately, then, listening - for a lecturer - is as important as talking. I am immensely proud, therefore, that I have twice been shortlisted for Best Supervisor in the Union Teaching Awards at Manchester Met.
I studied for my first degree (in English Language and Literature) at the University of Liverpool and I have a PhD – on post-war poetry, the cultural geographies of the Lake District and spatial theory – from Lancaster University.
Certificate in Academic Practice, Lancaster University
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
After doctoral study, I worked as both a Senior Teaching Associate and Senior Research Associate at Lancaster; and I was then appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Cumbria. In 2012, I took up a post as a Senior Lecturer in English in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University Cheshire. I moved to the Department of English in Manchester at the start of 2016.
I am currently Admissions Tutor for the Department of English. I also lead the Department's teaching, research and knowledge exchange work in the field of Place Writing.
Students taking a degree in English must have enthusiasm – a key and, to my mind, undervalued word – for reading and for thinking about the practices and processes of reading. Over the course of a degree, then, we always encourage our students to engage with the ideas and issues to be found in poems, novels and plays and other forms of creative writing. At the same time, our students are asked to engage with different branches of literary theory in order to think critically about the place of literature in the world. As a result, English students are empowered to think both creatively and critically about a diverse range of texts. They are also given the support to articulate – both through written and oral work – their ideas about such literature. As a result, English students graduate with the critical skills and personal confidence which employers – in a wide range of fields – consider to be essential.
Undergraduate units for 2017/18:
Approaches to Narrative (Unit Leader, level 4)
Writing & Place (Unit Leader, level 6)
I teach on the new Place Writing pathway on the Manchester Writing School's MA/MFA in Creative Writing.
I am particularly keen to supervise critical and/or
creative projects on any aspect of literary geography. These might include
projects in the following areas: place writing; contemporary poetry of space,
place & landscape; literature & cartography; digital literary
geographies; literature & geographical thought.
Jennifer Bailey: ‘“Everywhere has Stories”:
Critical & Creative Approaches to the Literary Geography of Rochdale’
(full-time, 2014 - )
Natalie Burdett, ‘Writing the West Midlands: A
GeoHumanities Approach to the Poetry of Place’ (part-time, 2016 - )
Alicia Edwards, ‘Victorian Shadows in
Contemporary London: Tracking Down Dark Tourism and the English Imaginary’
(full-time, 2016 - )
Zaffar Kunial, ‘Poetry as Wavering’
(full-time, 2015 - )
Richard Skelton, ‘North of Here: Past
Imaginative Geographies of North-West England’ (full-time, 2017 - )
Isabel Taube, ‘Granadaland: the Histories
& Legacies of the Granada Television Company’ (full-time, 2016 - )
MA by Research Supervision
Rebekah Donovan: ‘Cause and Effect: Neo-Victorianism, Digital Cultures and
Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries’
Maria Needham: ‘Locating Lost Masculinities in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale’ (completed 2015)
MLitt in Environment, Culture & Communication, University of Glasgow (2017-20)
PhDs in literary geography at the Universities of Melbourne (2017) and Nottingham (2015)
My interdisciplinary research on writing and place can be categorised into three – frequently intersecting – areas of interest. First, I explore the synergies and tensions between the creative practices of post-war/contemporary writers (particularly poets) of space, place and landscape and the theoretical work of cultural geographers. Much of this work, to date, has focused on the material and imaginative landscapes of north-west England with a particular emphasis on the ongoing legacy of British Romanticism. Second, I work extensively on digital literary geographies: I examine how the process of creating digital literary maps can be conceptualised as a form of critical practice; and I am interested in how contemporary writers are representing and using geospatial technologies in their own creative work. As part of this work, I am a Co-Investigator on the major AHRC-funded project, ‘Creating a Chronotopic Ground for the Mapping of Literary Texts’ (October 2017 – September 2020). Third, connecting with wider debates in the GeoHumanities, I am increasingly exploring the relationship between critical and creative approaches to place. This work
often involves collaborating with creative writers and artists; and I am currently involved in ‘Hayling Island: Stories at Sea Level’: a multi-media project co-ordinated by the Manchester-based writer, Michelle Green, and funded by Arts Council England.
Threaded for all of this work is a self-reflexive preoccupation with what it means to do literary geography. I am similarly preoccupied by how the work of creative and critical writers might feed into wider public debates and policy discussions about our urban and rural landscapes.
A commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration is fundamental to my work as a literary geographer. As a result, I have worked on a wide range of projects with colleagues from a wide range of disciplinary fields including Geography; History; Digital Humanities; Archaeology; and Art. I have also worked with a range of creative practitioners including Amelia Crouch (visual artist),Henry Iddon (photographer), and Lesley Raven (textile artist).
I lead on Place Writing research, knowledge exchange and teaching activity within the Department. Outside the University, I was a founding co-editor of the international open-access journal, Literary Geographies, which was launched in 2015 under the steer of Professor Sheila Hones (University of Tokyo); and I am an Associate of the ‘Spatial Humanities: Texts, GIS, Places’ project at Lancaster University.
C. Donaldson (2016). Literary Mapping in the Digital Age. DC. Cooper.
N. Alexander, D. Cooper (2013). Poetry & Geography: Space & Place in Post-war Poetry. Liverpool University Press.
D. Cooper (2017). A poetic playground: collaborative practices in the Peak District. Landscape Research. 42(6), pp.677-689.
D. Cooper Digital Re-Enchantment: Place Writing, the Smartphone and Social Media. Literary Geographies. 5(1),
I. Gregory, D. Cooper (2013). Geographical technologies and the interdisciplinary study of peoples and cultures of the past. Journal of Victorian Culture. 18(2), pp.265-272.
D. Cooper, G. Priestnall (2011). The Processual Intertextuality of Literary Cartographies: Critical and Digital Practices. The Cartographic Journal. 48(4), pp.250-262.
D. Cooper, IN. Gregory (2011). Mapping the English Lake District: a literary GIS. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 36(1), pp.89-108.
IN. Gregory, D. Cooper (2009). Thomas Gray, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and geographical information systems: A literary GIS of two Lake District tours. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing. 3(1-2), pp.61-84.
D. Cooper (2009). 'Matter Matters': Topographical and Theological Space in the Poetry of Norman Nicholson. Yearbook of English Studies. 39(1 & 2), pp.169-185.
D. Cooper (2008). The Poetics of Place and Space: Wordsworth, Norman Nicholson and the Lake District. Literature Compass. 5(4), pp.807-821.
D. Cooper, A. Crouch (2019). The Cul-de-Sac in the Forest: The Supermodernity of Center Parcs. In: Practising Place: Creative and Critical Reflections on Place. Art Editions North,
D. Cooper Contemporary British Place Writing: Towards a Definition. In: Routledge Handbook of Place. Routledge,
D. Cooper (2018). Sounds & Silences: Acoustic Geographies & the Poetry of Place. In: The Singing Glacier. Hercules Editions,
SD. Millington (2017). The Modern Lighthouse – A Sculpture by Accident. In: From the Lighthouse: an Experiment in Interdisciplinarity. Routledge, pp.91-96.
D. Cooper The Problem of Precedent: Mapping the Post-Romantic Lake District. In: Romantic Cartographies. Cambridge University Press,
D. Cooper (2017). The Routledge Handbook of Literature and Space. In: The Routledge Handbook of Literature and Space. Routledge, pp.135-147.
DC. Cooper (2016). 'Setting the Globe to Spin': Digital Mapping and Contemporary Literary Culture. In: Literary Mapping in the Digital Age. Ashgate,
DC. Cooper, C. Donaldson, P. Murrieta-Flores (2016). Introduction: Rethinking Literary Mapping. In: Literary Mapping in the Digital Age. Ashgate,
DC. Cooper, IN. Gregory, A. Hardie, P. Rayson (2015). Spatializing and Analyzing Digital Texts: Corpora, GIS, and Places. In: Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives. Indiana University Press, pp.150-178.
DC. Cooper (2014). Telegraph Hill. In: Mount London Ascents in the Vertical City. Penned in the Margins,
D. Cooper (2013). The post-industrial picturesque? Placing and promoting marginalised Millom. In: The Making of a Cultural Landscape: The English Lake District as Tourist Destination, 1750-2010. pp.241-262.
DC. Cooper (2013). Envisioning 'the cubist fells': Ways of Seeing in the Poetry of Norman Nicholson. In: Poetry & Geography Space and Place in Post-war Poetry. Liverpool University Press,
DC. Cooper, N. Alexander (2013). Introduction: Poetry & Geography. In: Poetry & Geography Space and Place in Post-war Poetry. Liverpool University Press,
DC. Cooper, L. Roberts (2012). Walking, Witnessing, Mapping: An Interview with Iain Sinclair. In: Mapping Cultures Place, Practice, Performance. Palgrave Macmillan, pp.85-100.
DC. Cooper (2012). Critical Literary Cartography: Text, Maps and a Coleridge Notebook. In: Mapping Cultures Place, Practice, Performance. Palgrave Macmillan, pp.29-52.
L. Adkins, N. Duffy, K. Aubrey, A. Kettle, L. Biggs, et al. Made in Translation.
‘“Setting the globe to spin”: Digital Mapping & Contemporary Literary Culture’, Cultural Itineraries on Topographies of Space and Geographies of Places Conference, University of Calabria, Italy, May 2015.
‘Literary Mapping in the Digital Age: Some Forms and Thoughts’, Mapping the Imagination: Literary Geography Conference, University of Salerno, Italy, March 2014.
I have delivered invited papers at universities around the UK including Bristol, Cumbria, Edinburgh, Lancaster, Leicester, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, Nottingham, Queen Mary University of London, and Strathclyde. In 2015, I was invited to contribute to the postgraduate seminar series at the University of Tokyo. I have also given papers at conferences across the UK and Europe.
I have been involved in the organisation of numerous academic conferences, symposia and workshops including events at Edinburgh, Lancaster, and St Anne’s College Oxford. In 2014, I organised ‘Teaching Landscape Writing: Interdisciplinary Approaches and Innovations’: a conference, held at MMU Cheshire, funded by the Higher Education Academy. I am currently serving on the academic committee for Inclusive Placemaking: Institute of Place Management 4th International Biennial Conference, Manchester, 2017
The Cartographic Journal
International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing
Journal of Maps
Literary and Linguistic Computing
Politics of Place
International Federation for Modern Languages and Literature
Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, Canada
Swiss National Science Foundation
I have been involved in a series of successful grant applications which have been awarded, in total, just under £2.5 million.
2017-20: Co-Investigator, ‘Creating a Chronotopic Ground for the Mapping of Literary Texts’ (October 2017 – September 2020). Principal Investigator: Professor Sally Bushell (Lancaster University). Funding: £914,000 [£33,406 to Manchester Met] (Arts and Humanities Research Council).
2014: ‘Teaching Landscape Writing: Interdisciplinary Approaches & Innovations’, Higher Education Academy Workshop & Seminar Series 2013/14. Funder: Higher Education Academy: £750.
I have previously worked on the following successful grant applications:
2014-17: ‘Literary Geographies of Testimony’. PI: Sheila Hones (University of Tokyo). Funder: Japanese Research Council: £20,000. [Named collaborator.]
2012-16: ‘Spatial Humanities, Texts, GIS, Places’. PI: Ian Gregory (Lancaster University): Funder: European Research Council: £1.5 million. [Named researcher.]
2009-10: ‘Landscapes, memories and cultural practices: a GIS/GPS digital heritage mapping network’. Co-ordinator: Julia Hallam (University of Liverpool). Funder: Arts & Humanities Research Council: £11,000. [Named collaborator.]
2007-9: ‘Mapping the Lakes: A Pilot Literary GIS’. PI: Ian Gregory (Lancaster University. Funder: British Academy: £7,500. [Named researcher.]
I also have been awarded several internal grants for research and knowledge exchange activities. This includes a grant of £5000, through the University’s Future RKE Leaders programme, to support public engagement activity on place, writing and technology.
Building upon my background in literature development, I have a demonstrable commitment to engaging with new audiences. Please find below a list of selected recent projects and talks.
Collaborator, Hayling Island: Stories at Sea Level: development project, to create an experimental multi-form story map, led by Michelle Green and funded by Arts Council England. The project work will include multi-media performances at Durham and Manchester Literature Festivals, as well as Hayling Library.
Contributor (in collaboration with Lesley Raven) to Made in Translation: public exhibition held at the Portico Library, Manchester, 2017.
Director, Place Writing Festival, Manchester Writing School, May-June 2017.
Organiser, Digital Re-Enchantment: Place, Writing & Technology, Humanities in Public event, Great Hucklow, Peak District, 2016.
Vocal Landscapes: Bodies, Language and Place: public conversation with Amelia Crouch, Practising Places programme, Manchester, 2016.
‘The Past Persists into the Present’: New Contexts for Norman Nicholson’s Writing, Norman Nicholson Society Annual Lecture, Millom, 2016.
‘Literary Geographies’, Talk at launch of Poetic Places app, British Library, 2016.
Co-organiser (with Tim Edensor, Gavin MacDonald & Rosemary Shirley), series of Creative Geographies public events for Humanities in Public programme at Manchester Metropolitan University, 2014-16.
Expert guide for Seldom Seen: series of public walks and cultural mapping roadshows held around Morecambe Bay and organised by Art Gene, 2014.
Academic consultant, Outside the Glass: Perspectives on Norman Nicholson exhibition, Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, 2008.
My non-academic publications include the following:
‘The Cul-de-Sac in the Forest: the Supermodernity of Center Parcs’ (with Amelia Crouch), Practising Places, ed. by Elaine Speight (forthcoming)
‘Absurd Manoeuvres: Places, Bodies & Texts in the Work of Amelia Crouch’, The Double Negative (forthcoming)
‘Not Disqualifyingly Timid Pseudopodia Extend and Coalesce; or Mary Somerville at the Portico’, in Made in Translation (Manchester: MMU, 2016)
‘Telegraph Hill’, in Mount London: Ascents in the Vertical City, ed. by Tom Chivers & Martin Kratz (London: Penned in the Margins, 2014).
I have appeared on several programmes on BBC Radio Four - including 'Open Country', 'Crossing the Bay', and 'Provincial Pleasures: Norman Nicholson at 100' - exploring the literature of north-west England. Other radio appearances include interviews on local BBC stations.
Shortlisted, Best Postgraduate Supervisor, MMU Union Teaching Awards, 2017.
Shortlisted, Best Undergraduate Supervisor, MMU Union Teaching Awards, 2015.
Nominated, Rising Star Award, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2015.
Best Poster (with Patricia Murrieta-Flores and Ian N. Gregory), GIS Research UK Conference, University of Liverpool, 2013.
Mentor, English Association mentoring programme, 2017.
Advisory Board member, Palimpsest: AHRC-funded digital literary mapping project, University of Edinburgh, 2014.
Future RKE Leaders Programme, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2014 -
Editorial board member, Literary Geographies, 2017 -