What I do
I teach a variety of periods of U.S. literature—mostly, though not entirely, pre–1900. I’m particularly invested in teaching U.S. literary production as a centrally multicultural endeavor, but that goes beyond simply an appreciation of different cultures and groups with their linguistic and cultural traditions. It also means considering “literature” broadly speaking as a terrain on which social and political struggle is waged. I also want to foreground the larger questions on which our study is based: what is literature and why does it matter?
In my research, I’m currently working on a few projects. One has to do with the interaction of Critical Pedagogy and New Historicism. Specifically, I have been exploring—on my own and with students—the links between, on the one hand, a pedagogy that asks us to deeply historicize our own scenes of teaching as related to larger social relations and questions of social justice and, on the other, a literary studies methodology that insists on analyzing the material and social contexts of literary production. Another project has to do with the 1890s and the ideological complexities of the representations put forth by both Mexican and U.S. participants at the Chicago World’s Fair. I spent a few energizing weeks in Mexico City archives for this project, but working through cell phone photos of faded, 1890s documents in longhand has proven a bit time-consuming. And I’m revising a piece on Melville and his engagement with empire.