Biography

My teaching and scholarship range across the British and American long eighteenth centuries, with special emphasis on transatlantic literary and cultural relations. In addition to the Restoration and 18th-Century Literature and American Literature: Colonial to 1830 surveys, I regularly teach Reading Poetry, a foundational course in the English major, where students learn to recognize key genres and conventions in the history of English-language poetry, and to write critical essays grounded in the practice of rigorous close reading. My graduate and special topics undergraduate courses, like The Country & the City in 18th-Century Literature, English Literatures of the French Revolution, and William Blake: Counter-Enlightenment, focus on the ways in which literature creatively, and practically, shapes historical experience and knowledge.

Like my teaching, my scholarship is driven by questions of genre and literary history. How do genres come to coalesce in recognizable forms? And how did British and American critics during the Enlightenment understand the significance of generic distinctions, and the roles that various literary genres played in creating a distinctly literary sense of culture? These questions animate my first book, Urban Enlightenment and the Eighteenth-Century Periodical Essay: Transatlantic Retrospects (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), which is the first literary history of the Enlightenment essay serial spanning the long eighteenth century, and the first to show how these essayists and their critics conceived their work not as topical ephemera, but as posterity-oriented contributions to a tradition of urbane moral-civic writing with roots in classical antiquity.

My current research focuses on the picaresque strain in English-language Enlightenment fiction: its origins, differences from continental picaresque writing, its early American and British anti-Jacobin variants, and transformations during the nineteenth century.