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About me

John Baker's interests are in literature (particularly contemporary literature) and the Bible.

I have taught English literature at Westminster since 2002, initially as a Visiting Lecturer, then as a fractional Lecturer from 2005 and as a full time Lecturer from 2007. I was appointed a Senior Lecturer in 2012.

I was educated at Manchester University (BA Hons First Class in English Literature, 1994) and King's College London (PhD in English, 1999).

I have taught the literature of a wide range of periods from Chaucer to contemporary drama and the eighteenth century novel at a variety of universities in London since 1997, including Kingston, Birkbeck and the Open University. I currently teach a range of first and second year modules including contemporary literature, the eighteenth century novel and theatre studies. I supervise third year dissertations and extended essays. I am also personal tutor to half of the second year students.

My research interests are focused on religion and literature, particularly the Bible, and I have published on Howard Barker, Howard Brenton, Philip Pullman and Nick Cave in recent years.

Teaching

I am Module Leader for three first year modules at Westminster.

Introduction to Literary Studies is a two-semester module that focuses on the basic skills that students will need to successfully study at undergraduate level and introduces them to some of the 'big issues' of literary theory like the role of the author, gender and sexuality.

Introduction to Theatre Studies introduces students to theatre as a living art form and allows them to discuss and analyse actual theatre productions, as well as think about how they would approach their own productions.

Writing Contemporary Britain focuses on a range of twenty-first century texts and allows the students to engage with contemporary issues such as youth culture, multiculturalism and changing attitudes toward sexuality.

I am also Module Leader for the second year module Rise of the Novel, which focuses on the development of the eighteenth century novel and covers a range of major writers of the period including Defoe, Richardson and Fielding.

I supervise third year students who are writing their dissertations and extended essays on a wide variety of topics.In addition, I am personal tutor for half of the second year students, which has allowed me to become familiar with the wide range of issues – personal, financial, work-related, and so on – that currently affect students and this has enabled me to help them deal with many of these issues or arrange for them to be given the support they need.

Research

My PhD Dissertation (1999) focused on the influence of the poetry of William Wordsworth on that of Robert Browning, using the 'influence theory' of Harold Bloom, and was published as Browning and Wordsworth by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press in 2004. Further work has appeared in journals such as Victorian Poetry, The Review of English Studies, New Theatre Quarterly, Ecumenica, The Nautilus and Notes and Queries.

My current research interests focus on the intersection between religion and literature, particularly in relation to the Bible. In recent years I have published on Howard Barker's use of the story of Abraham and Isaac in his play Rome, Howard Brenton's play Paul, which depicts the life of the Apostle, and Philip Pullman's depiction of the prophet Enoch in the His Dark Materials trilogy. I have also edited a collection of scholarly essays on the Australian singer-songwriter and novelist Nick Cave, The Art of Nick Cave, which was published by Intellect in 2013. My own chapter in the collection examined Cave's profound and complex engagement with the Bible and his depiction of Christ in his work. My most recent publication, in early 2015, focused on David Peace's curious decision to offer a revisionary account of the death of Christ through the prism of a medieval shipwreck in his Red Riding Quartet. I am currently working on an article on David Edgar's use of contested Biblical quotations in his 2011 play Written on the Heart.

Publications

For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.