Writing Projects in Progress:
Unsettled Times: Temporalities of Settlement in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (monograph).
(This project is supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant.)
While accounts of settlement’s literary history have often emphasized settlers’ attempts to solidify control over land, this book shows how attempts to settle land often unsettled the times that organized literary spaces. From the contingent temporalities of verb tenses within an early American novel to scenes of confrontation with multiple pasts embedded within the land in a moving panorama of the Mississippi valley, the literary fictions, visual images, and material artifacts I examine reveal settlement to be not only a process of claiming land, but also a process that both confronts and elides the pasts and presents of place, creating unsettled temporal relationships to the landscapes that compose the American continent. Through readings of novels by Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and E.D.E.N. Southworth, among others, as well as narratives like Black Hawk’s “as-told-to” autobiography and visual material including maps of the Mississippi River and the Mississippi panorama, I show that texts and objects that are simultaneously linear and recursive in their formal qualities provide new ways to think through the narrative forms of settlement and the multiple histories of settler spaces. This attention to recursive temporalities—to narratives that repeatedly turn back on themselves or portray different times simultaneously—intersects with ongoing questions about the periodization of humanistic fields of study. To that end, I read some of these nineteenth-century texts alongside earlier colonial travel and settlement narratives as well as more recent twenty-first century texts, suggesting new conversations between time periods that reorient the study of the beginnings of American national literatures.
“Typee and Trees,” for The Oxford Handbook of Herman Melville, eds. Jennifer Greiman and Michael Jonik (book chapter).
Moby-Dick might be the Melville work that most immediately conjures the ecologies of empire, but concerns about the effects of imperialism on environment (and recognition of the effects of environment on empire) are present beginning with Melville’s first book, Typee. This chapter explores these issues through a focus on Typee’s trees. Trees and their products are everywhere in Typee. This may not seem surprising given the importance that we now place on the breadfruit tree within histories of European Pacific voyaging. The desire to transplant breadfruit trees to the Caribbean to feed enslaved populations motivated the ill-fated Bounty expedition and so became engrained in Euro-American Pacific mythologies. Tommo cites the “celebrity” of the tree as one reason for giving a lengthy description of it and its fruit (NN Typee 114). But trees appear throughout the novel, as indicators of Nukuheva’s Edenic nature, as resources linked to the novel’s complex meditations on culture avant la lettre, and as objects linked to affect and memory. “It is strange how inanimate objects will twine themselves into our affections, especially in the hour of affliction,” Tommo reflects when remembering “three magnificent bread-fruit trees” that he saw, day after day, during his time on the island (244). This chapter considers the implications of making trees central to Melville’s engagement with the ecologies of empire.
Oceans at Home: Maritime and Domestic Fictions in Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Writing
(University of Massachusetts Press, 2021).
(Clicking on the images of books on this page will take you to the publisher website.)
“The Times of Settler Colonialism.” Lateral: Journal of the Cultural Studies Association, Forum: “Emergent Critical Analytics for Alternative Humanities.” 6:1. Spring 2017.
“Americans Abroad: Melville and Pacific Perspectives.” New Global Studies, Special Edition, Editors’ Forum: Reimagining Transnationalism in the Global Academy. 9:3. December 2015.
“‘Outre-mer adventures’: Caroline Kirkland’s A New Home, Who’ll Follow? and the Maritime World.” Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 32:2. Winter 2015.
“Mary Howard’s Mark: Children’s Literature and the Scales of Reading the Pacific.” Early American Literature 50:3. Fall 2015.
*This essay was the co-winner of the Richard Beale Davis Prize for best essay published in Early American Literature in 2015.*
“Artistic Anachronisms: Pleasure Reading the Patent Office Building.” J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 2:2. Fall 2014.
“Seriality and Settlement: Southworth, Lippard, and The Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley.” American Literature 86:1. March 2014.
*This essay received an honorable mention for the Norman Foerster Prize for the best essay published in American Literature in 2014.*
“The Captivity of Translation: The Legacy of William Barrett Marshall’s Personal Narrative.” International Journal of Francophone Studies, special issue, “Oceanic Routes.” 11:4. 2008.
“The Art of Becoming: Sherwood Anderson, Frank Sargeson and the Grotesque Aesthetic.” Journal of New Zealand Literature 23:2. 2005.
*This essay was awarded the JNZL Prize for New Zealand Literary Studies in 2005.*
“Pym, Mammoth Cave, and (Pre)Histories of the U.S. Interior” in Decolonizing “Prehistory”: Deep Time and Indigenous Knowledges in North America, eds. Gesa Mackenthun and Christen Mucher. The University of Arizona Press, 2021. 71-88.
“Sentimental Premonitions and Antebellum Spectacle,” in Apocalypse in American Literature and Culture, ed. John Hay. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. 110-121.
“‘You will observe…’: Letting Lippard Teach,” in Teaching Tainted Lit: Popular American Fiction in Today’s Classroom, ed. Janet G. Casey. University of Iowa Press, 2015. 17-29.
Review of Dale M. Bauer, Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Serial Novels. Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, 38. 1-2. 2021. 167-169.
Roundtable review of Arielle Zibrak, Guilty Pleasures (in conversation with Sarah Danielle Allison, Rita Dashwood, and Arielle Zibrak). Edith Wharton Review, 37.1. 2021. 82–90.
Review of Ezra Tawil, Literature, American Style: The Originality of Imitation in the Early Republic. Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 33.1. Fall 2020.
Review of Turns of Event: Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies in Motion, ed. Hester Blum. Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, 45.1. March 2018.
Review of Gillian Silverman, Bodies and Books: Reading and the Fantasy of Communion in Nineteenth-Century America. Textual Practice 28.5. 2014.
Review of Trevor Bentley, Captured by Maori: White Female Captives, Sex and Racism on the Nineteenth-century New Zealand Frontier. “The New Zealand Listener,” October 9-15, 2004.
“James Fenimore Cooper’s The Bravo on the International Stage,” Wexford Festival Opera (Ireland) 2018 Festival Programme. 35-37.