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 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 taught at Harvard and Stanford.
My first book, 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 shore up the state's growing control over marriage, however, they offer subtle critiques of the forms that its regulations take. Essays drawn from this project have appeared in Eighteenth-Century Fiction and The Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation. Other articles examine topics such as the ethics of promising in George Eliot, the specter of divorce in Henry James, and the role of gender and sentiment in nineteenth-century legal narrative. I am currently completing a pair of articles on Frankenstein and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the history of criminal responsibility. Longer projects include 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 expression 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 courses include "Legal Fictions of the Enlightenment," "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.
“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.