Areas of Research
19th-century British literature; science and literature; Victorian speculative fiction
Primitive Minds: Evolution and Spiritual Experience in the Victorian Novel. Ohio State University Press, 2013.
British Discovery Literature and the Rise of Global Commerce. Palgrave, 2002.
Selected Articles, Chapters, Review Essays
“Epigenetic Emergence: Reading for Growth in Jane Eyre.” Textual Practice 33.7 (2019), 1071-1086.
“The Made Man and the Minor Novel: Erewhon, ANT, and Empire.” Victorian Studies 60.1 (Autumn 2017), 53-73.
"Marvelous Plasticity and the Fortunes of Species in The Water Babies." Philosophy and Literature 38: 1A (October 2014), 162-77.
"The Machinate Literary Animal: Butlerian Science for the 21st Century." Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology 22.1 (Winter 2014), 57-77.
"Developmental Nonsense in the Alice Tales." Style 47.3 (Fall 2013): 382-98.
"Sympathy, Superstition, and Narrative Form; Or, Why is Silas Marner so Short? A Response to John Mazaheri." Connotations: A Journal of Critical Debate 21.1 (2012), 20-27.
“Evolution and Epilepsy in Bleak House.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 (SEL) 51:4 (Autumn 2011), 803-22.
“The Savage Genius of Sherlock Holmes.” Victorian Literature and Culture 37.2 (2009): 611-26.
“The Primitive Mind of Silas Marner.” ELH 75.4 (2008), 939-962.
“Criticism, Ethics, and the Problem of Rehabilitation,” Law, Culture and the Humanities 2 (2006), 284-300.
"New Museology and the Nation." On Display: Essays in Cultural Tourism. Ed. Anna Smith and Lydia Wevers. Wellington, New Zealand: Victoria University Press, 2004. 180-96.
“Civilization and the Rights of Woman: Liberty and Captivity in the Work of Mary Wollstonecraft.” Women’s Writing 8.1 (2001), 99-117.
“‘A Land Without a Past’: Dreamtime and Nation in The Piano,” in Piano Lessons, eds. Felicity Coombs and Suzanne Gemmell (Sydney: John Libby Press, 2000), 136-147.
Frances L. Stiefel Teaching Professor, 2018-2020
Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2011
Conger-Gabel Teaching Professor, 2010-12
Most of my research focuses on British literature of the 18th- and 19th-centuries. My most recent book, Primitive Minds: Evolution and Spiritual Experience in the Victorian Novel (2013) brings together evolutionary science with Victorian psychology and spiritualism. My current book project is Strange Stories and the Descent of Mind where I explore 19th-century speculation about the impact of imaginative literature on human evolution and colonialist temporalities. I teach courses in my literary fields as well as critical theory at both the introductory undergraduate and the graduate levels. In the past, I have helped organize and teach poetry classes at Douglas County Jail, and I have published on the relationship between criticism and corrections. I have also written articles on film, on the post-colonial politics of museum display, and on the institutional career of cultural studies.