English Department Chair and Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
After teaching in Yale University's English Department 1990-1995, I moved to UC Santa Barbara. Among courses I've offered here: "Writing Nature in the 18th Century"; "Performing the Restoration Playhouse"; "Going Postal: Letter-Narratives"; and "Augustan Poetry and the Public Sphere." I'm affiliated with the Early Modern Center and the Literature & Environment initiatives in English, and with UCSB's Environmental Humanities Center.
My research interests include theater studies, letter-narratives, and nature/culture encounters in early modern British literature. In Epistolary Bodies: Gender and Genre in the Eighteenth-Century Republic of Letters (1996), I examined how epistolary novels play with and against print culture (Montesquieu, Richardson, Riccoboni, Crèvecoeur). My recent article on the French artist Sophie Calle reads her "Take Care of Yourself" project (2007) as a remediation of 18th-c. epistolary conventions.
In 2012, I co-edited the collection Invaluable Trees: Cultures of Nature 1660-1830. I'm currently working on a book entitled "Talking Trees: Others and Ethics in Long-Eighteenth-C. British Literature," which considers the history of environmental ethics in writing about trees and forests. Recent articles have focused on avian migration, botany and monstrosity, and the 18th-c. global circulation of flora.
Together with several graduate researchers, I am developing the Early Modern British Theater: Access (EMBTA) project. Please visit our website, which collects resources for teaching theater studies 1500-1800, at embta.english.ucsb.edu.
Eighteenth-century British and French literature and cultural studies; literature and environment.
Articles & Chapters:
In 2012 my co-editors and I published Invaluable trees: cultures of nature, 1660 –1830. The co-edited, interdisciplinary volume is the first to deal with the material culture of trees, forests, and wood in the early modern period; it includes essays by scholars in art history, history of science, musicology, agricultural and forest history, and literary scholars working in a number of European languages. My essay in the volume, on Swift's poem "On cutting down the old thorn at Market Hill," argues that Swift employs a rhetorical strategy of distancing and displacement to argue for an ecocentric environmental ethics.
With a team of graduate students from the Early Modern Center, I'm creating a web-based project called Early Modern British Theater: Access (EMBTA). Its goal is to facilitate the teaching of plays and their performance contexts in ways that bring theater's complex multisensorial and collaborative aspects into the classroom. Rather than focusing on one side or the other of the mid-17th-c. Puritan closure of theaters, our site ranges from 1500-1800. While the theater of Shakespeare is radically different from the theater of Garrick, our site aims to explore both continuities and innovations in British performance history and dramatic literature over three centuries.