SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge
Dr Simon Barton
Dr Simon Barton
postal addressCrescent House 509, Salford, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom.
telephone07597 605510
Key Memberships
From September 2011 to August 2015.
From September 2011 to August 2015.
Profile Summary

I gained my Ph.D from the University of Salford andI live in Lancashire.  My first monograph, 'Visual Devices in Contemporary Prose Fiction: Gaps/Gestures/Images', will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015.

Over the four years of conducting my Ph.D research I obtained a Graduate Teaching Assistanceship at the University of Salford, Manchester, teaching at all undergraduate levels on English modules. The GTA finished in 2011 and I was subsequently offered an Hourly-Paid contract for the 2011-12 academic year teaching 'Narrative, Fiction and the Novel', 'Modernism' and 'Postmodernism'. I have since continued to teach at Salford during 2012-13 and 2013-14. The 2013-14 academic year has seen an increase in my teaching load, delivering lectures, seminars, assessment, pastoral care and associated administration on the 'Visual Text' and '21st Century Women's Fiction' modules in addition to the aforementioned workload. I have also spent this academic year pursuing a PGCAP (Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice) which has conferred Fellowship membership of the HEA.

My research explores a number of interesting, innovative concerns that are at the forefront of contemporary literary criticism. Primarily, I analyse the form of the novel and the effects that disruptions to the graphic surface of the page have on the reading process. I am interested in the act of 'looking' at the page of a novel that comes before the 'reading' of it. My main interest is in developing a more relevant critical vocabulary for ‘visual devices’ such as textual gaps, iconographic typography and illustrations in prose fiction. I am also interested in the inherent visual nature of the sign and how images are represented textually and spatially on the page. In addition to this I examine a number of primary texts by (mainly British and American authors) authors such as Mark Z. Danielewski, B. S. Johnson, Alasdair Gray, William H Gass, Tom Phillips and Christine Brooke Rose.

Key Qualifications
This thesis is a reader-focused analysis of unconventional graphic devices that appear on the pages of graphically innovative prose fictions. The main aim is to provide a study of the implications that unconventional and graphically disruptive pages have on the reading process and how the reader can overcome this challenge and ultimately gain meaning from these other modes of signification. The study prioritises the act of ¿looking¿ that is a fundamental part of ¿reading¿ of the page. This focus on the arrangement of text on the page has been largely neglected by previous literary critics. The materiality of the book as an object is also fundamental to the understanding of some of the idiosyncratic devices in the novels featured as examples here. The three main chapters of the thesis explore the implications that textual gaps, textual arrangements and visual images have on the reading process. Each chapter is devoted to exploring the different effects of each of these three types of device on the reader, and constructs a new critical vocabulary for the analysis of these previously marginalised works of prose. Two separate case studies that follow them apply the product of the previous three chapters to two exceptionally visual (and critically marginalised) novels, Raymond Federman¿s Double or Nothing: A Real Fictitious Discourse (1992) and William H. Gass¿ Willie Masters¿ Lonesome Wife (1968), respectively. These case studies demonstrate the suitability of applying new terms to the reading of unconventionally presented narratives and show how this focus on the page can assist the critical interpretation of ¿difficult¿ novels that have previously been marginalised by literary critics.
The thesis presents an argument that through employing metafictional techniques, experimentation with textual and graphic space and allusions to hypertextual devices, Mark Z. Danielewski¿s House of Leaves seeks to remind the reader of the presence of the book in print fiction. Danielewski dispenses with traditional textual formats in order to provoke the reader to realise the presence of the physical book in their hands. This is mirrored in the narrative as two of the main characters both obtain a copy of the very same book that the reader is holding. The author employs metafictional characteristics such as characters that acknowledge their fictional status whilst writing a book within a book. The first chapter of the thesis examines the potential of metatexts and criticism in the twenty-first century and a questioning of its continued relevance. Danielewski challenges textual space that potentially distances the reader from the narrative. There is an overwhelming amount of blank space in the text where there could have been narrative. The reader is told on several occasions that parts of the narrative are missing. Chapter Two is concerned with references to the book and the unconventional page aesthetics that encourage the reader to initially look at the page before actually ¿looking through the page¿. The final chapter compares House of Leaves with the hypertext fictions that it so often mirrors. The two forms of literature, whilst initially seeming quite different are actually very similar in narrative and form. House of Leaves appears to draw on some of the conventions associated with hypertext fiction in order to provide the reader a more active role in the reading of the text, whilst allowing them to understand the conventions of the writing.
Key Presence
Conference Organisation

A two day conference exploring the concept of the 'page'.  Organised in conjunction with Dr Glyn White, the conference brought a range of international academics to the university to discuss topics as diverse as ... more >>.


Co-organised with other Salford postgraduates.  A diverse annual postgraduate conference.


Co-organised with other postgraduates.  A diverse range of papers from postgraduates across the university.

Conference Presentations