About me

I am a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of English and starting in the Fall 2022, I will be joining the Department of Philosophy at the University of Miami as an Assistant Professor. My research engages questions in the areas of animal ethics, moral psychology, American pragmatism, and feminist philosophy. My articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment, Journal of Modern Literature, Arizona Quarterly, and Hypatia.

 

Research

My book project, Representing Animals: Moral Psychology and Animal Ethics, is an inquiry into the representational methods employed in fiction, film, and other cultural artifacts to incite empathy, compassion, disgust, anger, and contempt in the public and engender a culture that deters people from harming animals. Specifically, it is concerned with the question of whether disgust, anger, and contempt can be recruited not merely to enforce social norms, but also to change them. My project also defends projective empathy against the charge of narcissism and self-centeredness, which I believe is based on the mistaken assumption that the only purpose of projective empathy is to relate to another mind. On my account, projective empathy is less prone to bias than its simulative, cognitive, embodied, and entangled counterparts when employed to understand the situation of the species to which the animal belongs - or so I will argue.  I also propose that projective empathy avoids yet another problem with other empathetic modes. By focusing on the situation of groups, projective empathy is not vulnerable to the epistemic risk that arises when we mindread animals, and for this reason, it can be very effective for cultivating what Bertrand Russell refers to as "abstract sympathy" for "suffering... not sensibly present." I conclude that representations of animals that incite it should be employed more widely by animal care ethicists and animal rights advocates.

 

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.