His research falls into two main areas. The first of these embraces the transnational dimension of post-war socialist cinema. He was recently awarded a 12-month Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust to support his work on his latest book project 'Screening Art. Modernism and the Socialist Imaginary in East German Cinema' – a project which investigates questions of intermediality and which spans not only film, but also literature, music, and the visual arts in post-war cinema. This project grew out of his long-standing interest in DEFA and, in particular, the desire to integrate the study of East German Cinema into contemporary approaches to film studies. His latest work in this area is reflected in his essay ‘'Transnational Stardom. DEFA's Management of Dean Reed' that will be published in the autumn of 2016 in a major new collection of essays he has co-edited entitled Re-Imagining DEFA. East German Cinema in its National and Transnational Contexts. Together with colleagues from the USA, he has co-convened a series of 5 panels at the GSA on 'DEFA and Amerika' (2104, Kansas City) and a 3-day GSA seminar series on 'East German Film and TV in its Global Context' (2015, Washington DC).
His other main research interest is in the culture of the European Enlightenment and, in particular, inter-disciplinary approaches that explore the mediation of music and the visual arts in both fictional and non-fictional discourses. Together with Professor Ricarda Schmidt (University of Exeter), he co-directed a three-year project on Heinrich von Kleist supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), entitled “Kleist, Education and Violence. The Transformation of Ethics and Aesthetics” . This project has led to two substantial outputs: the first was a volume of essays specifically on the theme of literature and violence published under the title Konstruktive und destruktive Funktionen von Gewalt im Werk Heinrich von Kleists, ed. Ricarda Schmidt, Seán Allan and Steven Howe (2012); the second was a jointly authored monograph by the same team Unverhoffte Wirkungen. Erziehung und Gewalt im Werk Heinrich von Kleists (2014). His interest in the nexus of education and violence and its transcultural mediation is also reflected in a special number of German Life and Letters (co-edited with Elystan Griffiths) entitled Heinrich von Kleist. Performance and Performativity (2011). There he explores the ways the radical politics of the late 1960s and student movement are viewed through film adaptions of Kleist's literary works including Volker Schlöndorff's Kohlhaas – Der Rebell (1968) and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's San Domingo (1970).
His interest in performance and performativity is also complemented by a long-standing interest is Translation Studies. He has worked together with a range of theatres (including the Royal National Theatre, London) on producing translations of both new and classical works of drama.