Marquette Hall 226
I work on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, with a particular interest in the relation of literature, law, and ethics. I also have broad interests in gender studies, transatlantic studies, and the history of the novel. I hold a Ph.D. in English Literature from Yale, an M.A. in American Studies from Yale, and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Before coming to Marquette, I taught at Harvard and Stanford.
My book manuscript, Public Vows: Fictions of Marriage in the English Enlightenment, examines the ways in which novelists responded to and participated in debates about the contractual nature of the nuptial tie. Like many legal and social thinkers of their day, the book argues, writers including Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Frances Burney, and Amelia Opie imagine marriage as a public institution subject to regulation by church and state rather than a private agreement between two free individuals. Even as novelists attempt to shore up the state's growing control over marriage, however, they offer subtle critiques of the forms that these regulations take. Parts of this project have appeared in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, The Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation, and Impassioned Jurisprudence: Law, Literature, and Emotion, 1760-1848. I have also written on Robert Louis Stevenson and the insanity defense, on George Eliot and the practice of promising, and on Henry James and the specter of divorce, among other topics. My new work includes a study of literature and criminality in the British Enlightenment, and a book on feeling and ethics in eighteenth-century fiction and moral philosophy.
In my teaching, as in my research, I emphasize the rich interplay between literary form and historical change. I teach a range of classes, from introductory surveys to special topics in eighteenth-century British literature, law and literature, and the history of the novel. Recent undergraduate offerings include "Legal Fictions of the Enlightenment," “Crime and Punishment in English Fiction,” and “Protest and Rebellion in the British Tradition.” At the graduate level, my courses include "Literature and the Passions in the Age of Reason" and "Literature and Politics in the Age of Revolution." 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.
I was recently elected to a five-year term on the Executive Committee of the MLA Forum on Law and the Humanities. Here at Marquette, I co-convene the Humanities Research Colloquium and serve as a faculty advisor to the Undergraduate Humanities Conference.
“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.