Fellowships and Awards
Simpson Center Society of Scholars (2017-2018). Bruce Harkness Award, Joseph Conrad Society of America (2012). American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) New Faculty Fellowship (2011-2013).
Research and teaching interests
Victorian literature and culture; environmentalism and ecological theory; the Anthropocene; Earth System Humanities; empire and imperialism; history of science.
My research focuses on industrialization and empire in the nineteenth century and their relevance for tracing the emergence of the Anthropocene, a proposed designation within the Geologic Time Scale (GTS) acknowledging human disruption of the Earth System. I teach courses on Victorian Britain and the British Empire, especially centered on Darwin and evolutionary theory, and the environmental humanities.
My recent book, The Sky of Our Manufacture: The London Fog in British Fiction from Dickens to Woolf, traces the conceptual emergence of climate change the soot-laden London fog (i.e., "smog") of London in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. It argues that aesthetics, especially the novel, re-frame our perception in order to come to terms with an environment in which everything, including the weather, bears the imprint of human action.
Work in Progress
My current research explores the concept of the Anthropocene, especially in terms of the way it opens new methodological intersections between the humanities and the sciences, an approach Tobias Menely and I have been calling the Earth System Humanities. At present, I am approaching this topic through Victorian evolutionary theory, asking how nineteenth century debates around species, geologic time, extinction, and the fossil record must be re-evaluated in light of the human species's emergence as a geologic agent at planetary scale during the same period. This project is in its early stages, but several articles have appeared or are forthcoming in journals and edited collections. I am also co-editor (with Tobias Menely, UC-Davis) of Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times, (Penn State University Press, 2017), and co-organizer (with Jason Groves, UW Germanics) of a Simpson Center Interdisciplinary Research Cluster on the Anthropocene.