About me

I am a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of English and an Affiliated Faculty Member in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Miami. Currently, I examine the formal strategies deployed in late 19th- and early 20th-century utopian fiction, where  the aim to imagine the future of the nation based on the principle of social cooperation is mirrored in various writers' efforts (e.g. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edward Bellamy, and Henry Olerich) to shift readers’ focus from the meaning of the text to the uses to which the text might be put. My interest in reader-response is more generally aimed at defining the scope of the classical American pragmatist thinkers and writers whom I understand to be bolstering the epistemological validity of empirical inquiry, even as they ultimately prioritize the ethical implications of their theoretical commitments in practice. Previously, I was a Ph.D. student at the University of Notre Dame, where I considered intersections among science, technology, and literature from an American pragmatist perspective. My dissertation project argued for embodied practice as a key element in how we arrive at culturally-specific forms of conceptualization, symbolization, and representation in the writings of Melville, Thoreau, Hemingway, and Hurston, and other writers. I see my future work engaging questions of perceptual diversity and the imagination in connection with literary representations of animal consciousness.

Research

My book project, tentatively titled Imagined Modernism, builds on the ideas I developed in my dissertation project, Patterns of Experience: Pragmatism, Perception, and Cultural Cognition in Modern American Literature. The latter tracks experience-based forms of mimesis in the writing of Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Ernest Hemingway, and Zora Neale Hurston. In Patterns of Experience I argued that these four American writers attend to the interplay among perception, conception, and culture in their narratives, and collectively articulate an anti-foundationalist theory of cognition in which our concepts are anchored in culturally-situated acts of perception. Thus,  Melville's depiction of machine-mediated modes of perception in European navigational practices, and Hurston's  pragmatist epistemology in which her subjective, participatory engagement with Haitian and Jamaican culture is a source of narrative authority and objectivity, suggest that how we think is not a transparent process in which ideas get transferred directly from world to body to mind. In Imagined Modernism, I develop an argument which foregrounds the importance of the imagination for generating more flexible and creative modes of perception in the environments of Thoreau's Maine Woods and Hemingway's African Savannah and the Gulf Stream—modes that offer possibilities for conceptual renewal in the technologically-mediated cultural environments that we inhabit.

 

Publications

"The (Non)Modern Imagination of a Noisy Williams," William Carlos Williams Review 34.1 (2017), pp. 64-92. pdf

 

Teaching

A central focus of my work is how media affect the way that we think. With the rise of multi-media approaches, students are gaining some skills and losing others. I believe good teaching begins from an awareness that current media ecologies offer us endless possibilities for exploration and learning, but they can also narrow our horizon. The logarithmic logic of the internet poses challenges to a new generation of students who have grown up interacting with digital technologies, which is why I believe media literacy should be the central humanistic focus in the classroom. How do we avoid the trappings of google and the internet, technologies that currently serve the needs of coorporations by reducing our likes, opinions, and personalities to “data” in order to better serve our so-called consumer-needs? How do we help students navigate digital media environments where it is difficult to identify authoritative sources so that they might become better researchers and well-informed citizens? I believe that a liberal arts education at its best arms students with the analytical tools that they need to arrive at carefully-weighted opinions.