Assistant Professor of English
PhD Rice University, 2009
MA Rice University, 2006
BA St. Mary’s College of Maryland, 2001
Courses Frequently Taught:
GW 100: Citizens of the World
ENGL 170: Freaks!
ENGL 352: American Literature after 1865
ENGL 370: Slavery and the American Novel
Finalist for Foerster Prize for Best Essay in American Literature, 2008
Newberry Library Research Fellowship in the History of Cartography, July 2008
Select Publications and Presentations:
“Domesticating Palestine: Elizabeth Champney’s Three Vassar Girls in the Holy Land.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature (forthcoming).
“‘Jesus Christ in Texas’: W.E.B. DuBois’s Biblical Geographies.” American Literature Association Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., May 22-25, 2014
“Archaeology and Adventism in Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood.” C19: Society for Nineteenth-Century Americanists Conference: “Prospects: A New Century,” Berkeley, CA, April 12-15, 2012.
“Poe and Prophecy: Degeneration in the Holy Land and the House of Usher.” Gothic Studies 12, no. 2 (November 2010): 61-69.
“Sacred Geographies: Religion and Race in Women’s Holy Land Writings.” American Literature 80, no. 3 (September 2008): 471-500. (Finalist for Foerster Prize for Best Essay in American Literature, 2008
My current research concerns U.S. representations of the Near East in the nineteenth-century, but more broadly I’m interested in the relationship between religion, race, gender, and space in U.S. literature. In general, the nineteenth century attracts me, I think, because it is such an anxious, uncertain period in American history. Americans struggled to define their nation in this period, and it was a struggle, among other things, to define the place of the United States in the world.
Personal and Professional:
I think the question I always have in the back of my mind reading any work of colonial, early or nineteenth-century American literature is: how has this text helped shape the world we live in today? How do we understand ourselves as Americans? One of my favorite public intellectuals, Sarah Vowel, writes in her recent book The Wordy Shipmates that she is fascinated by the Puritans of the 1600s because their ideas continue to haunt American culture. I think this is my starting point generally, the assumption that early American and nineteenth-century texts contain the ghosts of the culture in which live. Whether or not we identify as “American,” we are surrounded by institutions and ideas that emerged in a particular space and time. I think it’s my job to help my students discover that many of the ideas they take for granted are neither natural nor fixed. I hope that by opening up American literature to my students, I can show them how complex the processes of identity are that have helped to mold them. I think when we look back to the relatively recent past (although my students would probably disagree that the nineteenth century is recent), we see that national identity in the United States has always been fractured and fragile.
When I’m not reading, writing, or grading, I spend time with my husband, daughter, and my oh-so-aptly-named dog Sawyer. We do a lot of walking, cooking, and eating and have been spending time exploring Bloomington-Normal’s many parks and playgrounds. When I get the time, I also enjoy drawing and printmaking.