American literature to 1865; American studies, feminist studies, digital humanities. Current VP for Membership of the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society: http://cmsedgwicksociety.org/
I am a maverick scholar and literary critic who, despite academic habits and values ingrained during the 1950s, also lives a non-specialist second life by reading across the humanities, sciences, and political history. I relish analytically disputing issues with other introspective, driven readers of Western literature and lovers of art and classical music. If the topic is broad, I demand supportive detail, and if narrow, I want to understand the wider context. To make sense of it all and to air occasional exasperations, I also write short stories. You can google my name for a professional profile.
Psychological literary criticism; modern literature; teacher education in English;
modernism, aesthetics, women writers, working class studies, Marxism, fashion theory and history, materialism, labor history, and knitting.
I’m a 19th-century Americanist whose major work has been in two areas: Mark Twain, on the one hand, and the study of 19th century American women writers, on the other. Most recently, though, I have become interested in American imperialism–in 2011 I published God’s Arbiters: Americans and the Philippines, 1898-1902, a study of the role of religious rhetoric in the debates over the annexation of the Philippines. To my surprise (and relief), it’s been well received by historians, on whose turf I had feared to tread. Pedagogically, I’ve thrown myself into U.S. immigrant lit in the last few years, teaching courses that begin with “classic” turn-into-the-20th century texts and then jump to very recent writings–Junot Diaz, Bich Minh Nguyen, and others. The response has been fantastic; many of my students have never traveled outside of their region, and the presentations I have them do in conjunction with the reading brings the world into the classroom. I’m very excited about both these turns in my scholarly and pedagogical life.
modernism, postmodernism, literary theory, American literature