Fellowships and Awards
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; global health; modernism; posthumanism; empire and imperialism; history of science medicine, and technology; actor network theory; emergence.
My research focuses on industrialization and empire in the nineteenth century and their relevance for understanding the ongoing processes (and social and ecological consequences) of industrialization and development around the globe. Thus, I balance my research on Victorian Britain and the British Empire with work on contemporary ecological theory, international development, and global health. Similarly, I teach courses on the Victorian era, literature and the environment, and posthumanism.
I have recently completed a book, The Sky of Our Manufacture: The London Fog in British Fiction from Dickens to Woolf, which 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. The project runs from the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851 to the "Great Smog Disaster" of 1952. 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. In the process, the book examines the relationship between "atmosphere" in its literal and literary senses, and "climate" as both a meteorological and historical phenomenon.
Work in Progress
My current research explores the concept of the Anthropocene, especially in terms of the way it opens new methodologial intersections between the humanities and the sciences. At present, I am approaching this topic through the lens of 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, which is forthcoming from Penn State University Press in 2017, and co-organizer (with Jason Groves, UW Germanics) of a Simpson Center Interdisciplinary Research Cluster on the Anthropocene.