I am an Associate Professor of English at the University of Chicago. My research and teaching focus on literature, science, and aesthetics in the Victorian period and early twentieth century. In particular, I work on:
- Nineteenth-century sciences of mind and emotion, and their significance for Victorian novelists and literary critics
- Speculative fiction from the Victorian period to the present, including gothic, science fiction, utopia, and romance
- The aesthetic and decadent movements in art and literature
- Aesthetic philosophy, affect theory, and neuroaesthetics
- The literary and cultural history of climate change
My book, The Outward Mind: Materialist Aesthetics in Victorian Science and Literature (University of Chicago Press, 2017), explores how nineteenth-century sciences of mind and emotion generated new and controversial explanations of the human experience of the arts. Tracing manifold intersections of science and aesthetics, the book reflects on the long history of the aspiration to use evolutionary theory and cognitive science to make sense of art and literature.
Other topics I’ve recently written about include the reception of British aestheticism in the United States, and historicism in the era of climate change.
With my colleagues in History, Emily Lynn Osborn and Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, I was PI on the 2015-2017 project Climate Change: Disciplinary Challenges to the Humanities and the Social Sciences at University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society.
I also help organize V21: Victorian Studies for the Twenty-First Century and am a member of the Vcologies working group.