My research revolves around British Victorian and modernist fiction and the digital humanities. My book manuscript, Leisure Fictions: Working at Play in British Literature, 1840-1960, incorporates critical leisure studies to investigate the literary representations of the new spaces of leisure, those crucial but underanalyzed nodes in global flows of capital. Adapting concepts form Bruno Latour, Erving Goffman, and Chris Rojek, I show how hotels, resorts, ocean liners, and cruise ships are represented by Victorians and modernists as more constrictive and overdetermined than the places from which they putatively provide escape. Along the way, I hope to show the concept of modernity itself is indebted to late 19th and early 20th century representations of grand hotels and ocean liners. My texts include travel narratives by Trollope, Thackeray, Dickens, and Chesterton and novels by Lewis, Forster, Bowen, Waugh, Sackville-West, and Christie, as well as archival materials from maritime museums across England.
If there’s something I love more than using some good close readings to interrogate the spatial and economic dimensions of a novel or short story, it’s the prospect of giving Henry James and Katherine Mansfield some new TEI/XML digital editions that will be clear and responsive enough for public use while being rigorous and textured enough for academic use. With me working on the encoding and annotations and Andrew Pilsch working on front-end presentation, we hope to start putting up some prototypes by the end of fall 2014. On the dock first are the stories collected in Travelling Companions (James) and In a German Pension (Mansfield). News of our progress will be featured on my blog. Meanwhile, you can see my review of Franco Moretti’s Distant Reading at Digital Humanities Quarterly, and my “Hashtags, Compression Algorithms, and Henry James’s Late Style” will be coming out soon at the Henry James Review, as will my “Toward a Digital Henry James” in the forthcoming collection Henry James Today. My other DH research project is a quantitative analysis of W. B. Yeats’s dialogue poems to show how the stylistic encoding of Nietzschean and Hegelian ideals as stylistic illuminate the poet’s late political thought.
Spinoffs from my leisure project are being published (heavily revised to fit their new contexts). The Journal of Modern Literature 37.1 has my essay “This Wild Hunt for Rest: Working at Play in the Ambassadors”, while my essay about Elizabeth Bowen and hotels is in the collection Utopianism, Modernism, and Literature in the Twentieth Century, and my essay on Evelyn Waugh, Bruno Latour, and ocean liners is out fall 2014 in Robert Tally’s collection on Literary Cartographies.
Beyond the leisure book and encoding James, I am working on essays on Katherine Mansfield and Charlotte Brontë. Responding to new approaches in Victorian literature borrowing from ecocriticism and animal studies, I am looking at how Charlotte Brontë’s representations of nature change between Jane Eyre and Shirley from a hierarchical anthropocentrism to a “topographical” anthropology that emphasizes the interdependence of animals, humans, and industrial production and that mimics the methodological eclecticism of the Yorkshire Geological Society (founded in 1839).
Regarding Mansfield, I wish to develop a materialist approach that makes sense of disparate accounts of Mansfield’s tone—variously as sentimental or as cynical—by looking at the non-human in her stories. It is inside Mansfield’s remarkable objects, plants, and animals in her short stories that humanity inheres, from the parrot wallpaper of “Prelude” to the cream puff of “The Garden Party” to the dead bird of “The Canary” to the almond that might or might not be in the honey cake of “Miss Brill.” It is this economy of delegated sympathy that accounts for these inconsistencies of tone.
Publication information can be found at my CV.