Portrait of Professor Vybarr Cregan-Reid

Professor Vybarr Cregan-Reid

Professor of English and Environmental Humanities
Director of Curriculum Strategy

About

Vybarr Cregan-Reid is Professor of English & Environmental Humanities. His most recent book is Primate Change: How the World We Made is Remaking Us about how the way we live now is changing our bodies. He is currently making a series for the BBC World Service in Singapore, Boston and Nairobi called Changing World, Changing Bodies (based on the book). His previous book, Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human (Ebury 2016) reviewers called ‘impassioned and energetic’, and ‘a blazing achievement’ – both are available as audiobooks. He has written widely on the subjects of literature, health, nature and the environment for the BBC, The Guardian, The Independent, the Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Countryfile, the Mail, The Washington Post and numerous others. He has appeared on BBC Radios 3 and 4 a number of times, as well as on Sky News.

Research interests

Literature, the environment, evolution, the Victorians (esp. Hardy & Dickens), biomechanics, sports science, bodies, Babylonian literature.

Supervision

Prof Cregan-Reid has supervised about ten PhDs mainly in the area of Victorian literature.  

Publications

Showing 50 of 77 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.

Article

  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Ecologies of Labour: the Anthropocene body as a body of work. 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century [Online] 26. Available at: http://doi.org/10.16995/ntn.815.
    This article is a whistle-stop tour of the Anthropocene body and its emergence and expression (particularly in the Victorian period) as a response to sudden changes to ecologies of labour that took place as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Using aspects of the body (such as height) and parts of the body (the spine and knees), the article examines the ways in which the nineteenth-century work experience might be seen as a turning point for the development of many pathologies in the modern body.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). We Evolved to Run—But We’re Doing It All Wrong. National Geographic [Online]. Available at: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/running-books-jogging-health-science/.
    Thinking about running as a slow, meditative practice provides more benefits than viewing it as a sport, author says.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). Taking up Running? Here’s what you need to know to make it to February. The Conversation [Online]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/taking-up-running-heres-what-you-need-to-know-to-make-it-to-february-70497.
    A summary of how the body goes about responding to the demands of exercise in new runners.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). A Healing Walk in the Woods. Sunday Telegraph.
    A short article about research into the efficacy of forests for human wellbeing.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). The Treadmill is 200 this year - high time it got a makeover. The Guardian [Online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-running-blog/2017/jan/10/the-treadmill-is-200-this-year-high-time-it-got-a-makeover.
    A history of the treadmill with an assessment of its efficacy for fitness and wellbeing
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). Pages for the Ages. The Literary Review [Online] 2016:1-1. Available at: https://literaryreview.co.uk/pages-for-the-ages.
    This is a pice about the impact and effects of reading different books and how their meanings change as we age.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). Five Ways to Reboot Your Brain this summer. The Conversation [Online]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/five-ways-to-reboot-your-brain-this-summer-62989.
    A short article explaining and ranking different leisure activities for their efficacy at restoring cognitive function
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). Our success as a species is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. The Conversation [Online]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/from-perspiration-to-world-domination-the-extraordinary-science-of-sweat-62753.
    An short piece about why perspiration was of such key importance to our evolution
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). Pause Column. ’How to Reap the Rewards of Running in Nature’. The Big Issue.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). Why treadmills are torture (and how they were used as a Victorian punishment). The Independent [Online]:30-31. Available at: https://inews.co.uk/explainers/iq/treadmill-gym-history-prisoners/.
    A piece for the Independent on the peculiar history of the treadmill
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). Running Numbers Continue to Rise, Here’s Why. The Conversation, The Independent, The New Zealand Herald, The Open University, Newsflash Nigeria, [Online]. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/why-running-is-fast-becoming-the-most-popular-way-to-exercise-a7056481.html.
    This articles examines why running is fast becoming the most popular form of exercise on the planet.

Audio

  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2020). What is the Secret to a Longer Life?. [Radio]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct064t.
    Why do people who live in five communities around the world – known as Blue Zones- consistently outlive the rest of us on the planet? Professor Cregan-Reid goes in search of the secret of a long life. He visits Sardinia home to one of those long lived communities where several villages boast dozens of people aged 100 or more.

    What used to kill us routinely no longer does so - at least not in such numbers. By rights many, many more of us should be emulating the residents of the Blue Zones and living well beyond 100. Instead we are succumbing to lifestyle diseases and longevity could even be about to fall for future generations. The good news is researchers in the Blue Zones have identified seven easily adapted rules for a longer life!
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2020). Is Height All in the Mind?. [Radio]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct064s.
    Professor Cregan-Reid explores why we have all grown so fast recently. For four millennia we barely grew an extra inch but in the 20th Century pretty much every nation in the world shot up by between three and six inches.

    But it is not a uniform story; the Dutch have carried on growing and today their men and women tower over the world but in the US and the UK, height plateaued decades ago. And is being tall good for you? Yes, it seems, if you are a politician or industrialist; less so if you hanker after a career in entertainment.

    The orthodox thinking says nutrition is the key but Professor Cregan-Reid hears about new thinking which claims height is determined by how optimistic society feels about the future- is it really all in the mind?
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2020). How modern life affects our sleep. [Radio]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct064r.
    For two million years we evolved in synch with our environment and our bodies were perfectly adapted for a physically rigorous outdoor life. That all changed when the Industrial Revolution brought about a transformation in how we lived and worked for which our bodies were unprepared.

    Professor Vybarr Cregan-Reid, describes how the great move indoors to a more comfortable but sedentary experience was changing our feet, our faces and our backs. In this second series he considers how modern life has impacted on the whole body experience, specifically on our sleep, our height and our longevity.

    In the first episode about sleep, he learns that sleep is not just good for us but the bedrock of our health. The modern world has helped us sleep better in some ways; our homes are more secure, our beds more comfortable and we can control our sleeping environment more effectively than in the past.

    But, we live in a noisy world. The electric light has banished true night, our jobs mean many of us are at work when we should be asleep and we have become dependent on personal devices that make it harder for us to drop off and to get a good night's sleep.
    Professor Vybarr Cregan-Reid speaks to some of the world's leading researchers about how sleep has changed and learns what we can do to achieve a good night's sleep and thus a longer life.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2019). How Modern Life is Changing our Faces. [Radio]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csz4bf.
    Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid looks at how modern living is changing our faces. With the help of professor Saw Seang Mei in Singapore and the UK's top ophthalmologist, professor Chris Hammond, he tells the story of how baffled scientists sought to understand the rocketing rates of myopia in the Far East, where more than 80% of teenagers are short-sighted. Dr Cregan-Reid learns about the various theories put forward before Australian researchers cracked the mystery in 2004. Spoiler alert: It is not to do with screens.

    Evolutionary biologist Professor Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, from New York State University, tells Dr Cregan-Reid about how our jaws have been reacting to changes in our diet. They are getting shorter and less dense, but our teeth are erupting as if it is still 50,000 years BC. At London's Natural History Museum, Professor Fred Spoor takes us through the impact the modern world is having on our teeth and the shape of our mouths.

    Back in Singapore, the country's leading plastic surgeon, who spends most of his day reshaping people's jaws, tells Dr Cregan-Reid he thinks our faces are getting shorter but wider because of what we eat and the impact of stress on facial muscles.

    In the third and final part of Changing World, Changing Bodies, we learn why the 'you' that you see in the mirror most days may not be the 'you' that your DNA had planned.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2019). How Modern Life is Changing our Backs. [Radio]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csz4bf.
    Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid investigates what the last 250 years has done to our backs. What is it about modern life that has promoted back pain, especially lower back pain, from a rarity to the number one cause of pain and disability in the world?

    In the remote Kenyan Village of Pemja, Dr Cregan-Reid meets people with such excellent backs that they are the subject of international study. He hears from pain-wracked workers in Nairobi whose backs today are a pale version of those of their grandparents' and at the London Design museum he comes face-to-face with the artefact that has done most to weaken our backs - the chair.

    Chairs with backs are now so ubiquitous it is reckoned there are around 10 for each of us but as recently as 1800 they were a rarity. Not that we have much choice but to sit down today. At the start of the 19th Century fractions of one per cent of people sat down for a living but today three quarters work in offices or drive for a living. We put our spines into positions they were not designed to sustain for hours on end.

    He discusses with Australian academics their research which claims that half of back pain is in the mind and why simple movement is probably more effective than surgery, manipulation and powerful painkillers in getting to the bottom of back pain.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2019). How Modern Life is Changing our Feet. [Radio]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csz4bd.
    For nearly two million years we evolved in close sync with our environment but 250 years ago the industrial revolution happened and changed everything. The innovation and technology it brought had many benefits but there was a physical cost as progress also designed out movement from our lives.

    From spending hours on our feet outdoors, our jobs have moved indoors and largely involve sitting down for most of the day in offices, factories or driver cabs. It has resulted in feet that are getting flatter, backs that are weaker and eyes that cannot see very much without help.

    Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid hears from evolutionary biologists, academics, anatomists and public health professionals in Singapore, Kenya, Australia, the UK and the United States; about the impact of modern life on our physical self and what we can do to return our bodies to the state that nature intended.

    The good news is there is no need to spend hours on treadmills or pumping iron, in fact we would injure ourselves a lot less if we were a bit more cautious when exercising. Our bodies are marvellously adaptable and reintroducing small movements into our daily lives in most cases will do the trick!
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). 5Live - ’Afternoon Edition’ with Guest Editor Vybarr Cregan-Reid. [radio]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06q6h8z?fbclid=IwAR0Pn4EDvxZo-yJig1Y1lknTspI26BiIMcAvGEanFA9feHbhBP2bEVKCDto.
    Is modern life bad for our bodies? The writer Vybarr Cregan-Reid argues modern life is bad for our health – making us short-sighted, unhappy and fat.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Footnotes: how running makes us human. [audiobook]. Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Footnotes-Audiobook/B07H7P45M2?qid=1545238583&sr=sr_1_3&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_3&pf_rd_p=c6e316b8-14da-418d-8f91-b3cad83c5183&pf_rd_r=2CMEVFESHQR92BEWYX76&.
    Audiobook, recorded by Daniel Weyman
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Vybarr Cregan-Reid - Audible Sessions. [audiobook]. Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Vybarr-Cregan-Reid-Audiobook/B07H3D7SPG?qid=1545238583&sr=sr_1_2&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=c6e316b8-14da-418d-8f91-b3cad83c5183&pf_rd_r=2CMEVFESHQR92BEWYX76&.
    Joining us in the Audible Studios to talk about his latest book, Primate Change, is writer and lecturer at the University of Kent Vybarr Cregan-Reid.

    A senior lecturer in English and Environmental Humanities, Cregan-Reid is also the author behind Footnotes - How Running Makes Us Human. He has a popular blog and has written widely on the subjects of health, literature, nature and the environment for publications such as the Guardian, Telegraph, and Literary Review and the BBC as well as numerous essays and articles for academic journals. His third book, Primate Change, was published in September 2018.

    Vybarr Cregan-Reid talks to us about his new book, how the human body is changing and why we need to be aware of it.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). ’Talking Books’ Profile on Newstalk radio. [radio]. Available at: https://www.newstalk.com/Footnotes:-How-Running-Makes-Us-Human.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). How Running Makes Us Human by Trevor Spencer on September 2, 2017 in Interview, Podcasts, Running Physiology. [podcast, video interview]. Available at: http://bit.ly/2z3dCTW.
    In this episode we interview Vybarr Cregan-Reid, author of the fascinating new book ‘Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human’. In this conversation you will learn how humans are uniquely built for running, the wonders of the foot, how exercise makes us smarter, where running and English Literature intersect, the concept of green exercise, and the notorious history of the treadmill! Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or Google Play so you can get all our new episodes!
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). Interview Leonard Lopate Show WNYC NPR radio in New York. [Radio]. Available at: http://bit.ly/2B9BJBP.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). Interview on BBC Radio Scotland’s Out for the Weekend. [Radio]. Available at: http://bbc.in/2Aw8xG3.
    28/07/2017: Out for the Weekend Have you ever wondered why so many people love running? Author Vybarr Cregan-Reid did and decided to find out why running divides opinion. He chats to Fiona about his new book "How Running Makes Us Human". One of the biggest re-enactment festivals takes place in Pitlochry this weekend. James Rattray from The Soldiers of Killicrankie tells us more. Reporter Claire White recently took part in a Gaelic song walking tour of Glasgow with producer Rona MacDonald. If orienteering is your thing then don't miss Jon Musgrave telling Fiona all about the Scottish Six Days of Orienteering which is taking place in Deeside this year. Kirsty Nutt from the RSPB took some time out recently to chat to Claire White about the 10 year anniversary of Red Kite re-introduction in Aberdeen. This weekend marks the official start of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival and CEO Stuart Aitken is in the studio to tell us what not to miss. We hear about a community gardening initiative in the south of Glasgow that encourages people to grow and cook together. Ann Philbrow from Urban Roots tells us more. And gardening guru Carole Baxter is back in the studio to answer your gardening questions. So if you have a problem with your parsnips or an issue with your iris then get in touch.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). Interview on RunRun Live Podcast - iTunes. [iTunes podcast]. Available at: http://apple.co/2AxnmYO.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). The Disruptors - Hate the gym? History explains why the treadmill can feel like torture. [Radio]. Available at: http://bit.ly/2lQocrn.
    Interview on Canadian national radio about the strange history of the treadmill
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). BBC Radio 3 - Free Thinking - Running. [Live radio discussion programme]. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b087yrll?ns_mchannel=social&.
    We've been running for two million years give or take. Shahidha Bari and Laurence Scott explore contemporary running as solitary inspiration and communal activity with the Geographer and 1999 Scottish Hill Running Champion, Hayden Lorimer, the artists Kai Syng Tan and Angus Farquhar, and the literary scholar and bare-foot artiste, Vybarr Cregan-Reid. Conversation ranges from feeling empowered on city streets to teaming up with the wind to the horrid history of the treadmill and explore whether Running deserves better representation in the arts.


    Guests: Vybarr Cregan-Reid - author of Footnotes How Running Makes Us Human
    Angus Farquhar, Creative Director of NVA Public Art, author of a blog 'The Grim Runner'
    Hayden Lorimer Running Geographer
    Kai Syng Tan, Artist and curator of a biennial festival Run Run Run

    Producer: Jacqueline Smith.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). Does Running Make you More Intelligent?. [Radio / internet]. Available at: http://www.newstalk.com/podcasts/Moncrieff/Highlights_from_Moncrieff/148432/Does_running_make_you_more_intelligent.
    Interview on Irish national radio - 'Moncrieff' on Newstalk

Book

  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Primate Change: How the World We Made Is Remaking Us. [Online]. London, New York: Cassell, Hachette. Available at: https://www.octopusbooks.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9781788401081.
    PRIMATE CHANGE is a wide-ranging, polemical look at how and why the human body has changed since humankind first got up on two feet. Spanning the entirety of human history - from primate to transhuman - Vybarr Cregan-Reid's book investigates where we came from, who we are today and how modern technology will change us beyond recognition.

    In the last two hundred years, humans have made such a tremendous impact on the world that our geological epoch is about to be declared the 'Anthropocene', or the Age of Man. But while we have been busy changing the shape of the world we inhabit, the ways of living that we have been building have, as if under the cover of darkness, been transforming our bodies and altering the expression of our DNA, too.

    Primate Change beautifully unscrambles the complex architecture of our modern human bodies, built over millions of years and only starting to give up on us now.

    'Our bodies are in a shock. Modern living is as bracing to the human body as jumping through a hole in the ice. Our bodies do not know what century they were born into and they are defending and deforming themselves in response.'
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human. [Online]. London: Ebury Press. Available at: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1108162/footnotes/.
    Running is not just a sport; it is the breaking down of our increasingly structured and demanding lives. In our always-on world, we are becoming alienated from our environment and ourselves, running reconnects us, lifts the spirit and allows our minds out to play and can help us to remember some of the impossible strangeness of what it means to be human. Footnotes will take you out to tread London’s streets, climbing to sites that have seen a millennium of hangings, or down the crumbling alleyways of Ruskin's Venice. It will transport you to the cliff tops of Hardy's Dorset, the deserted shorelines of Seattle, the giant redwood forests of California and the boulevards of Paris, using debates in literature, philosophy, biology and neuroscience to explore that simple human desire to run. Liberating and inspiring, this book will remind you why feeling the earth beneath our feet is a necessary and healing part of our lives.

Book section

  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). Essay on perspiration. In: Running: Cheaper Than Therapy. UK: Bloomsbury, pp. 33-35.
    Essay on perspiration appearing alongside other celebrity runners (David Baddiel, Jeff Galloway, Nicky Campbell, etc.)

Internet publication

  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2019). For the Sake of Our Health, We Need to Kick the Indoor Habit [Radio]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/27/health-indoor-habit.
    As a species we need to get out more. Humans now spend so much time indoors that many of us are cultivating a variety of serious health complaints, and for some they could be fatal. It is not so much that outdoor time is inherently good; more that our bodies are built to anticipate it and the way we live now is confusing to our systems. Nearly two decades ago a study published in Nature magazine concluded that the average American spent 93% of their time indoors. And that was before tablets and smartphones.

    In trying to cope with the shaded, sedentary world we have made, our bodies wage war on what should be harmless antigens; they fail to make bones strong enough to support our weight; even our eyes struggle to focus without the help of lenses. This incremental creep across the threshold to the great indoors began tens of thousands of years ago when the first settled communities emerged.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2019). What Is the Web Doing to Our Bodies? [Internet Radio]. Available at: https://www.britishcouncil.org/anyone-anywhere/explore/communities-connections/technology-changing-us.
    An essay published by The Barbican and the British Council

    In the last few decades, the revolution in information technology has rewired our lives – the ways we shop, communicate, and gather and consume information. But it is also there in our flesh and bones. The web is changing our bodies.

    The internet is modifying the way we move, the kinds of illnesses that we have to manage on both individual and global scales, and even our appearance. The rise of the web is synonymous with a new kind of body that is noticeably different to the ones which preceded it.

    Work is reflected in the human body

    All environments invite work of different kinds, and when those environments change, so do the movements we make.

    The traces of these changes are there in both modern and ancient humans. They are written so deep that we can see them at a distance of millions of years.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Modern Life Gives Children Nearly Everything They Need, Except Daylight [online publication]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/modern-life-offers-children-almost-everything-they-need-except-daylight-106374.
    A short article for the Conversation about the health implications of sustained indoor activities in modern life
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Why Do Hunter-Gatherers Live Nearly As Long As We Do But With Only Limited Access to Healthcare? [Online]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/hunter-gatherers-live-nearly-as-long-as-we-do-but-with-limited-access-to-healthcare-104157.
    A short piece about life expectancy for The Conversation
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Anthropocene: Why the Chair Should Be the Symbol for Our Sedentary Age [Internet Article]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/anthropocene-why-the-chair-should-be-the-symbol-for-our-sedentary-age-105319.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Allergies: The Scourge of Modern Life? (Weekend) [Internet Article]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/20/allergies-the-scourge-of-modern-living-hay-fever-ashtma-eczema-food-peanuts-dairy-eggs-penicillin.
    Our ancestors didn’t suffer from hay fever and food allergies were extremely rare even a few decades ago. What is causing the steep rise in their incidence now?
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). The Anthropocene Era Is Killing Us [internet magazine]. Available at: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-anthropocene-era-is-killing-us.
    Our bodies evolved in a different geological era, and as we stand upon the crest of yet another, humans are showing signs of the stress these changes are placing on us.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Power Plants [online publication]. Available at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/fresh-air-farming-how-one-man-halved-his-asthma-medication-wlb8snbl3.
    Fresh-air farming: how one man halved his asthma medication
    Asthma sufferer Vybarr Cregan-Reid on how greening up his home has helped him to breathe easier — and reduce his medication
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). From Perspiration to World Domination – the Extraordinary Science of Sweat [Website]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/from-perspiration-to-world-domination-the-extraordinary-science-of-sweat-62753.
    We often assume that it is our brain power that differentiates us from other animals. It is obvious that we are able to process more intellectual stimuli than other mammals, but any PC owner knows that computational power is completely useless if the cooling system fails. And this is what really sets us apart. It is our ability to maintain an effective working temperature, not just so that we can keep moving, but so that we can keep thinking while in motion, efficiently chasing down the quarry.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). ‘Running Makes You Smarter - Here’s How’ [Online]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/running-makes-you-smarter-heres-how-61454.
    This article is about recent research in neuroscience and what it tells us about the deep history of our bodies. It is about why our brains prepare us for the uptake of new knowledge after intense exercise and looks at John Clare's desire to out of his knowledge by walking over the horizon. It was incredibly popular and was subsequently translated into French and Spanish.
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). The Top Five Spring Runs from the Author of Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human [Online]. Available at: https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/on-writing/on-writing/2016/may/the-top-five-spring-runs-from-the-author-of-footnotes/.
    Publicity piece hosted by Penguin.co.uk for "Footnotes: how running makes us human"

Other

  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2017). Interview in Psychology Today. [Online]. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201707/the-run.

Review

  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2020). Generation Plastic. Literary Review [Online] April:38-39. Available at: https://literaryreview.co.uk/generation-plastic.
    As far back as the mid-1980s, planning for the future stewardship of our nuclear waste was under way. But with language changing over time, how could warnings to ‘leave this plutonium-filled Pandora’s Box unopened’ be conveyed in such a way that would be understood in a thousand or a hundred thousand years? This is just one of the many problems aired in David Farrier’s Footprints, a book that asks what will survive of us – and the answer isn’t, as Philip Larkin put it, love.

Thesis

  • Franchi, B. (2017). Ideas That Matter: Strategies of Intertextuality in A. S. Byatt’s Fiction.
    What is the role of intertextuality and ekphrasis in A. S. Byatt's novels and short stories? How does Byatt deploy intertextuality to address the relationship between art as experience and representation? And how do intertextuality and ekphrasis enhance creativity and destructive forces across characters, texts and discourses? This thesis examines how the numerous intertextual and ekphrastic references in Byatt's fiction challenge and complicate the crucial relationship between ideas and matter, and between mental processes and bodily experiences.
    Starting from Kristeva's theory of intertextuality, I argue how in Byatt reading, storytelling and writing are not only the highly demanding intellectual activities that most of her characters engage with, but also potentially dangerous: writing can kill once written words come to replace actual experience (Chapter 1). Conversely, the visual arts, medicine and science, appearing throughout Byatt's fiction in the form of intertextual and ekphrastic presences, represent more positive, empowering and liberating elements because of the greater balance between the mental and the physical dimensions they encourage (Chapters 2 and 3).
    The two final chapters shift their attention from the metatextual, theoretical perspective of the first part and focus on how Byatt deploys intertextual strategies to address political and historical discourses, in particular war trauma and the construction of national identity. Where the weight of history defines material existence, intertextuality unleashes its most creative powers of self-defence and survival, and allows characters to defend themselves, through mythology and storytelling, against the traumas of war and cross-cultural encounters.
    Ultimately, Byatt's are stories of individual development: intertextuality and ekphrasis thus become the ultimate strategies with which her protagonists are given agency over themselves, either to fight for their own emancipation, or be the tragic cause of their own self-destruction.

Visual media

  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2016). Sky News - Morning Stories - Run for Your Health. [TV]. Sky News.
    What would you do if i told there was a pill guaranteed to make you smarter, that could slow or even prevent Alzheimer’s, that could settle symptoms of depression, that was proven to be effective in the prevention of some cancers, that effectively tackled heart disease, that could reverse or prevent the onset of type-2 diabetes. Even better, it would enhance self esteem, make you feel more attractive, well, to anyone that you may want to attract. And, what if I told you that pill could make you more empathetic, would make you care more for your local environment; that you would be calmer, better at your job and increase your self sufficiency. What price would you pay for that pill? A month's salary, a year's?

    These are all things that I've discovered in my research into one of the simplest and most natural activities that is free to all of us. Some think it strange, most misunderstand it, but to the initiated who know how to do it slowly enough to enjoy it, it is absolutely magical. Running can give you all of these things. And it won't cost you anything.

Forthcoming

  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Is Exercise Fit for Purpose? [Internet Article]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/series/the-long-read.
    Article for the Guardian 'Long Read' on why government guidance for exercise serially fail
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Human v4.0.
    An essay, commissioned by The Barbican to be turned into an artwork for their 'Life Rewired' season in 2019
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Sedentariness in Fiction. [radio essay].
    A short essay read for transmission on Radio 4's Open Book
  • Cregan-Reid, V. (2018). Changing World; Changing Bodies. [Radio].
    A three-part radio series looking at how our bodies have been changed by modern life
Last updated