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Dave McLaughlin, BA (Hons), MA

Dave McLaughlin, BA (Hons), MA

PhD Candidate

In my PhD research I study readers' active and collaborative co-production of fiction. I analyse Sherlockian geographical and travel writings from the later years of the twentieth century. My research has found that these readers practise what I term 'expansionary literary geography'; that is, a species of encounter with fiction in which readers harness literature's creative agency in order to consciously add to or expand the literary spaces of the text. My theory of expansionary literary geography can help geographers to understand the event of fiction across multiple readers' encounters with stories.



  • 2017 College Examination Invigilator. Emmanuel College.
  • 2015-2016 Lecturer and Convener, Sutton Trust Summer School, Geography Department
  • 2015 Supervisor, Historical Geography of Globalization (1st year undergraduates)
  • 2015 Supervisor, Geography and Enlightenment (2nd year undergraduates)
  • 2014 Supervisor, final year dissertations in cultural geography
  • 2013-2013: Policy Adviser, Energy and Climate Change Desk, CBI
  • 2012-2012: Parliamentary Assistant, Sir Stuart Bell MP
  • 2010-2012: Policy Adviser, The Queen's Private Secretary's Office, Royal Household.


  • PhD Candidate in Geography, University of Cambridge (2013-present)
  • MA in Australian Studies, King's College London (2008-09)
  • BA (Hons) in Politics and History, Durham University (2004-07)


  • 2013-2016 Arts and Humanities Research Council: +3 doctoral funding award
  • 2014-2015 Arts and Humanities Research Council International Placement Scheme (IPS)
  • 2014-2015 British Research Councils Fellow, The John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress
  • 2015 Arts and Humanities Research Council: overseas conference award
  • 2014-2015 Cambridge University Fieldwork Fund: fieldwork award
  • 2015 British Association of Victorian Studies: paper presentation award


  • McLaughlin, D. (2018) Teaching Literary Geography II. Literary Geographies, 4 (Forthcoming)
  • McLaughlin, D. (2018) Readers, tourism and the making of Sherlock Holmes's England. In Palmer, C. and Tivers, J. (eds.) Creating Heritage for Tourism. (Forthcoming)
  • McLaughlin, D. (2017) Report on the first annual literary geographies conference. Literary Geographies, 3(2) (Forthcoming)
  • McLaughlin, D. (2016) The Work and the World: Mobilities and Literary Space. Literary Geographies 2(2) pp. 122-127.
  • McLaughlin, D. (2016) Walking as practice in Sherlockian literary geographies. Literary Geographies 2(2) pp. 144-163.

Conference and seminar presentations

  • McLaughlin, D (2017) Trail of Texts: Online journals and the Appalachian Trail. American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.
  • McLaughlin, D. (2017) Co-convener and discussant, International literary geographies conference. Emmanuel College, Cambridge University.
  • McLaughlin, D. (2016) Textual Circulation and Sherlockian Spaces. Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, London.
  • McLaughlin, D (2016) The Becoming Map: Arthur Axelrad's Guide to the London of Sherlock Holmes American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco
  • McLaughlin, D (2015) "It should be great fun to follow in their footsteps": Imagined histories into intangible heritages in David Hammer's A Dangerous Game, Borders and Crossings: 12th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Travel Writing, Queen's University, Belfast
  • McLaughlin, D (2015) "It should be great fun to follow in their footsteps": (Dis)placing the author in David Hammer's A Dangerous Game, Placing the Author: Literary Tourism in the Long Nineteenth-Century, University of York
  • McLaughlin, D (2015) Tyranny of Distance?, International Conference of Historical Geographers
  • McLaughlin, D (2015) Between the Canon and the Commons, British Research Councils Fellow Work in Progress Talk, Kluge Center, Library of Congress
  • McLaughlin, D (2015) Between the Canon and the Commons: Representing Geographical Mobility in Sherlockian Imaginative Expansion, American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Chicago
  • McLaughlin, D. (2014) A Very Public Conversation: The role of travel writing and guidebooks in shaping Australian imaginations of Britain in the late twentieth century, Immigration, Nation and Public History Symposium, Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King's College London
  • McLaughlin, D. (2014) Sherlock Holmes's Things, Detecting Objects: The Material Item and Detective Fiction Symposium, University of Portsmouth Centre for Studies in Literature
  • McLaughlin, D. (2014) Sherlock Holmes's Things, CRASSH Thinking with Things Symposium, Cambridge University


My research argues that fictional words (and associated actions) create communities and influence social interactions. I began this work in my doctoral thesis. There, I demonstrated that a community of readers – American Sherlockians – expanded on the textual geographies of the Sherlock Holmes stories with stories drawn from their own lives. I will submit a Chapter 5 as a writing sample; where I identify Sherlockians' exchange of fictional and non-fictional words as a means of expanding on Holmes's fictional world with the geographies of their own lives.

In my thesis, I have introduced the theory of expansionary literary geography. This is a species of encounter with fiction, in which readers harness the creative agency of literary production in order to consciously add to and extend the literary space of the story. It provides a way for geographers to think about readers' role in helping to make fiction in terms of group reading. Literary geography imagines a relation between reader, author and text which creates one fictional encounter. Expansionary literary geography provides a way to extend that encounter into future interactions between texts and multiple readers. Further, it provides a frame through which we can recognise the spaces that are being created inside and outside of fictional texts by readers right now. My viva examiners said that my theory represented a significant contribution to knowledge.

Alongside my thesis, I am continuing to research the role of travel writing and other literary accounts in framing social and cultural contact. My current work looks at Australia's developing relationship with Britain through the twentieth century, as mediated by Australian travel writing and travel guidebooks.

External activities

  • Emmanuel College MCR Secretary 2015
  • Emmanuel College MCR Social Secretary, 2013-14