Photo of Simon Rycroft

Simon Rycroft
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography (Geography)
T: +44 (0)1273 873530 or +44 (0)1273 877238


I am a Cultural Geographer specialising in the post-war cultural geographies of Britain and the United States. My research centres thematically on the relationships between landscape, nature, identity and cultural politics. Empirically I have a broad focus which has included the cultural geographies of London, twentieth-century literary geographies, the geographies of popular music, cultures of mapping, modern architecture and abstract visual art. I retain a secondary urban geographical focus on the western United States, particularly Southern California.

Within the field of landscape, nature and identity my work has focused upon forms of modernist planning interventions in specific landscapes and the ways in which these both frame and reflect established and emplaced landscape values. This research has included work on large-scale reservoir schemes and more abstract, utopian planning philosophies. In a similar vein, I have worked on issues of modernity, nature and citizenship as expressed in the conduct and design of the 1930s Land Utilisation Survey of Britain, connecting these issues to later debates concerning the foundational philosophies and aesthetics of post-war reconstruction.

I also make a contribution to shaping research agendas in the historical geographies of the twentieth century especially with respect to the relationships between aesthetics broadly defined, and cultural politics. This work builds upon my earlier research on literature and the modern city, and explores the representational and nonrepresentational practices developed by the 1960s urban countercultures in Britain and the United States. In recent years I have published and researched on the diverse and territorialized geographies of music in 1960s Los Angeles, on the myth of Swinging London and on its progeny, countercultural, or Underground London, and on the (non)representational practices of 1960s Op Art, kinetic art and multi-media lightshows. Currently I am working on a project that aims to elaborate the shifts in the register and practice of mid-century representations with reference to a broad set of cultural practices. This includes work in the artist John Latham’s cosmology and several pieces on landscaping, design and aesthetics.

My book Swinging City: A Cultural Geography of London, 1950-1974, which draws together a number of my research interests in a sustained analysis of the Swinging London phenomenon was published by Ashgate in 2011 (paperback edition 2016).