My recent research work has been devoted to re-defining Scottish studies as a ‘theoretical borderland’ in relation to the Empire and postcolonialism, as well as to map out pathways and patterns of interdisciplinary conversation across these fields. I have also researched and published widely on contemporary Scottish literature and Scottish Modernism, my main interest in the latter field being a questioning of the Anglo-American canon and a re-evaluation of the role of ‘vernacular modernisms’. Other research interests lie in the field of critical theory, with a special focus on postcolonial theories, nationalism and literature, the historical novel, border theories and, more recently, issues of canonicity and canon formation, memory studies, eocriticism/environmental studies. While I have often developed my research work in collaboration with or within Scottish institutions, I have always privileged a comparative approach, networking with colleagues from different countries and different disciplinary backgrounds. Within ESSE, I collaborated with ASLS in setting up panels focused on Scottish studies (Turin 2010, Istanbul 2012, Kosice 2014, Galway 2016). Within MLA I organised two special sessions, respectively on “Transforming the Atlantic: Caribbean-Scottish (Post)Colonial Relations” (Seattle 2012) and on “Postcolonial Celts: reframing Celticity between Otherness and Authenticity”(2014). I have been invited to speak as keynote speaker/guest lecturer at major Institutions in the UK, including the Universities of Edinburgh, Stirling, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Manchester and the Open University in London, and in other countries, including Spain, France, Germany, China, Malaysia and the US. I have also delivered the 2013 “Scottish Literature International Lecture” at the Scottish Parliament, in Edinburgh. I was a Royal Society of Edinburgh Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Stirling in 2008, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow in 2010/2011, and Affiliate Professor at the University of Glasgow in 2016/2017. I am currently co-editing a special issue of Humanities on “Environment, Ecology, Climate and ‘Nature’ in 21st Century Scottish Literature” (forthcoming). I am a member of the steering committee of the forthcoming 2020 IASSL Conference (Prague). I have been elected Convenor of IASSL (2020-23).
Interdisciplinary literary and cultural studies, including in disciplines outside the humanities (e.g., the sciences, mathematics, law, etc.); Scottish literary and intellectual history, 1707-the present; British literature of the long eighteenth century; Romanticism; modernism; critical and literary theory; the Enlightenment and its intellectual legacy; history and morphology of literary forms; literary and intellectual history; crime fiction
Academic interests: late 18th century, Romantic, and 19th century literature; transatlantic studies; literature and the environment; Scottish literature, esp. Walter Scott; Lord Byron. Other interests: I like trees, plants, wildlife, walking, cycling, music, ballet, art and travel.
My research interests include British modernism and modern poetry; David Jones; Geoffrey Hill; T.S. Eliot; Sylvia Townsend Warner; Louis MacNeice; modernism and national identity; modernism and religion. A native of Toronto, I am currently professor and chair of English at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut.
I am an associate professor in the English Department at Temple University, specializing in English and Scottish literature during what scholars now refer to as the Long Eighteenth Century (1660-1832), which includes the Restoration, the eighteenth century, and the Romantic era. I am also interested in discussions about the state of the academy and the value of the humanities, organizing academic labor, community-based learning, and the literature of Philadelphia.I am in the early stages of a book with the working title, Time for the Humanities: Competing Narratives of Value from the Scottish Enlightenment to the 21st Century Academy. It begins with the work of Adam Smith and then a trio of Scottish writers in the next generation–Robert Burns, Joanna Baillie, and Walter Scott, who reflect on the writers the emergence in the Scottish Enlightenment of three ways of talking about value: political economy, aesthetics and belles lettres, and moral philosophy. Together, they offer a pluralistic way of valuing not only persons and objects but also narrative itself, including a reflexive turn toward narratives of education that underscore the value of studying the humanities. The latter half of the book tracks the fission of these ways of valuing into the disciplines of the modern university, disciplines that tend more toward competition and exclusion rather than mutual illumination. This fission in narratives of value shapes the public’s understanding and misunderstanding of those of us who work in the humanities, who have unfortunately assisted in our isolation from and eclipse by disciplines typically accorded more explanatory power, such as economics. To make concrete these mutual communications and miscommunications, the latter half of the book is a series of case studies of practices and institutions in which university departments play only a partial role and yet offer opportunities for rethinking the value of the humanities: our students’ pre-professional desires as revealed in personal statements for graduate study, especially medical school; institutes and think-tanks seeking to influence humanities curricula; branches of US, UK, and Australian universities recently established in China and elsewhere; and experiments by universities in administering public high schools.I have taken up some of these topics as editor of Temple’s Faculty Herald, starting in January of 2013: see http://www.temple.edu/herald.Many of my scholarly interests coalesced in Ballad Collection, Lyric, and the Canon: The Call of the Popular from The Restoration to the New Criticism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). Focusing on the motives behind and the effects of the sustained interest by elite British writers in popular songs, it revises historicist accounts of the establishment of what we know now as the canon of English literature. While ballads allow elite authors to draw tendentious distinctions between high and low and idealize both the folk and the literary, they also use ballads to imagine a common world in opposition to modes of literary commodification and the overpowering of readerly agency. Among the figures I consider and continue to be interested in are better-known authors such as John Gay, Joseph Addison, William Wordsworth, William Blake, and Felicia Hemans, as well as lesser-known figures like Thomas D’Urfey, Allan Ramsay, eighteenth-century Shakespeare scholars and progressive educational theorists in the early twentieth century. Tracing the appropriation of ballads by elite authors puts me into touch with other topics that interest me, including nationalism, lyric, the history of English as a discipline, and the relationship between literary form and history.
I work on literary modernism and global modernism across the arts, as well as Theory (with a capital “t”). I’ve published a couple of books on modernism and theory, and a few articles as well.
Intercultural Language Education
Victorian literature and medicine, gender, George Eliot, Scottish studies, nineteenth-century American and British women writers
20th/ 21st C British and Anglophone Literatures, Scottish Literatures, Vernacular writing, Postcolonial Studies, Digital Humanities, Composition and Rhetoric.