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GanzMarquette Hall 226
(414) 288-3480
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Assistant Professor


I work on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, with a particular focus on the relation of literature, law, and ethics. I also have broad interests in gender studies, transatlantic studies, and the history of the novel. My research is driven by the desire to understand how debates about law and justice have shaped literary texts in the past, and how literature can help us think through questions of law and justice that remain of concern to this day. My interests draw from my interdisciplinary background. 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, is forthcoming from the University of Virginia Press as the recipient of the 2018 Walker Cowen Memorial Prize in Eighteenth-Century Studies. The book offers a new account of the marriage plot, arguing for the centrality of nuptial law to early fiction and of novels to nuptial regulation. Like many legal and social thinkers of their day, the book shows, novelists including Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Frances Burney, Eliza Fenwick, 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. Through recurring scenes of infidelity, fraud, and coercion as well as experiments with narrative sequencing and point of view, writers highlight the practical and ethical problems that result when couples attempt to form and dissolve unions simply by exchanging consent. Even as novelists attempt to shore up the state’s growing control over marriage, however, they criticize the particular forms that its regulations take. In uncovering writers’ engagements with the nuptial controversies of the Enlightenment, Public Vows challenges longstanding accounts of domestic fiction as contributing to sharp divisions between public and private life, and as supporting patriarchal models of the family. At the same time, the book counters a tendency in law and literature scholarship to view legal and fictional discourses as necessarily aligned or opposed. The book ultimately asks us to rethink our understanding not only of private and public, or love and politics, but of fiction and law.  Parts of this project have been appeared in The Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, and Impassioned Jurisprudence: Law, Literature, and Emotion, 1760-1848 (Bucknell UP).

In addition to my work on eighteenth-century fiction and nuptial law, I have published essays on Robert Louis Stevenson and the insanity defense, on George Eliot and the practice of promising, and on Henry James and divorce, among other topics. I am currently working on several new projects, including a study of eighteenth-century fiction and moral philosophy, a book on Victorian fiction and criminal responsibility, and a series of essays on ethics and justice in Austen, Edgeworth, and Mary Shelley.

In my teaching, as in my research, I emphasize the 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 two legal-themed classes, “Legal Fictions of the Enlightenment” and “Crime and Punishment in English Fiction,” which count toward the interdisciplinary minor in Law and Society; a section of English 3000 (the gateway class for English majors) entitled “Protest and Rebellion in the British Tradition,” which surveys literature from the late eighteenth century to the present day; and a first-year Honors seminar that examines changing representations of evil from Chaucer to Primo Levi.  At the graduate level, my courses include “Literature and the Passions in the Age of Reason,” “Literature and Politics in the Age of Revolution,” and “The Eighteenth-Century Novel.”  I also maintain an active interest in pedagogy and have led workshops on teaching strategies for beginning and advanced instructors.

I enjoy fostering and participating in interdisciplinary exchanges across the humanities and social sciences and currently serve on the Executive Committee of the MLA Forum on Law and the Humanities. On behalf of the Forum, I have organized sessions on “Literature, Law, and Violence” (MLA 2019),  “Law, Literature, and Emotion” (MLA 2018), and “Transnational Justice and the Literary Imagination” (MLA 2017).  Here at Marquette, I convene the Humanities Research Colloquium and serve on the Advisory Committee for the new Honors in the Humanities Program.

I am happy to advise independent projects and would welcome inquiries from students interested in working in any of my research or teaching fields.


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Spring 2018

 

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Spring 2018

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English Department

Marquette University, Marquette Hall 115 (campus map)
P.O. Box 1881
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(414) 288-7179
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