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I specialize in British literature and culture of the long eighteenth century, with particular interests in relations of literature, law, and ethics as well as gender studies, transatlantic studies, and the history of the novel. My research and teaching examine the ways in which imaginative writers took up questions of justice and rights that were of broad public concern in the Enlightenment. My approach to these questions draws from my interdisciplinary background; I received a Ph.D. in English Literature and an M.A. in American Studies from Yale and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Before coming to Marquette, I held postdoctoral fellowships in the Department of English at Harvard and the Introduction to the Humanities Program at Stanford.
My first book project, Public Vows: Fictions of Marriage in the English Enlightenment, reveals the central role of novels in debates about the contractual nature of the nuptial tie. Reading fiction alongside legal and philosophical treatises, parliamentary speeches, and periodical essays, the study argues that novelists imagine marriage as a formal, public tie even as they reconceive this tie as an affective agreement between two equal agents. My essay on nuptial law in Moll Flanders appeared in Eighteenth-Century Fiction; an article on clandestine marriage in Burney’s Cecilia is forthcoming in The Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation. I have also written on problems of freedom and obligation in texts by George Eliot (ELH) and Henry James (The Henry James Review). I am currently working on two new projects. The first examines intercultural encounters in the eighteenth century transatlantic imagination; the second explores the role of British novels in Enlightenment controversies about the moral emotions.
I teach a range of courses, from introductory surveys to special topics in eighteenth-century British and transatlantic literature, law and literature, and the history of the novel. I also maintain an active interest in pedagogy and have led workshops on teaching strategies for beginning and advanced instructors in the humanities and social sciences.
“Binding the Will: George Eliot and the Practice of Promising,” ELH 75 (2008): 565-602.
“‘A Strange Opposition’: The Portrait of a Lady and the Divorce Debates,” The Henry James Review 27 (2006): 156-174.
“Moll Flanders and English Marriage Law,” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 17 (2005): 157-182.
“Wicked Women and Veiled Ladies: Gendered Narratives of the McFarland-Richardson Tragedy,” Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 9 (1997): 255-303.