I teach a wide variety of courses, from surveys in world and British literature to genre courses on the novel and on the short story to graduate courses on poetry and special-topics courses in food blogging, Edwardian literature, adventure fiction, the Brontës, the Bloomsbury Group, and Sherlock Holmes. My signature courses are Mapping the Literature of London, which integrates podcasting and mapmaking software, and the second British Literature survey, which includes the web publishing of student-coded digital editions of literature.

My teaching uses a cultural studies approach to present the texts we read as fully engaging with and participating in a constellation of political, economic, technological, and social milieux. Our close attention to stylistic choices, reflecting my personal obsession with grammar and diction, reveal the rhetorical affordances of technique. If not always consciously understanding it as such, my students learn to follow Fredric Jameson’s dictum to always historicize as we compare course texts to the contemporary, typically mediated utterances that comprise a good deal of their naturally occurring reading. That comparison works not so much by direct comparison of sentences than by analogizing the relationships each text cultivates with its milieux. How does media representation of celebrity gossip recapitulate circulations of Maggie Tulliver’s reputation in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss? How do social media responses to geopolitical crises refuse the pointed illegibilities of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land?

I have been incorporating student-created digital content, such as course wikis, Twitter feeds, interactive maps, and digital editions, since I began teaching in 2005. Digital humanities methods are as crucial for familiarizing challenging or “foreign” texts—a side mirror making them appear closer than they are—as they are for defamiliarizing them. Charting, mapping, and counting texts turns them from linguistic data (which students feel they understand all too quickly) into a more alien form, making assumptions and generalizations less easy to sustain. In my classroom, as students learn to manipulate textual data, they learn how literature resembles other disciplines (particularly the methodologies of the STEM fields) and how it does not.