My writing and teaching focus on Victorian literature in relation to nineteenth-century science, psychology, and philosophy. I am currently working on a project that investigates Victorian fiction and nineteenth-century theories of consciousness. It considers the novels of Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, and Sarah Grand, among others, and examines a range of genres, including ghost fiction and scientific romance. My book Victorian Interpretation (Cornell UP) examines hermeneutics (literary, critical, philosophical, historical, scriptural, and scientific) in the works of George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, and Thomas Carlyle, and was awarded the Rudikoff Prize for the best first monograph in Victorian Studies. I am editor of Knowing the Past: Victorian Literature and Culture (Cornell UP), and (with James Paradis) Victorian Science as Cultural Authority (Routledge). Recent essays have considered such topics as the psychology of sense perception in Wilkie Collins’s fiction, weather science in Charlotte Bronte’s novels, and theories of conscious automatism in Victorian literature and scientific psychology.
I have served as president of the Northeast Victorian Studies Association. I am the recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies; the National Humanities Association; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; and the Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College.
My recent teaching has included courses on Victorian Literature and Nineteenth-Century Psychology, Victorian Literature and Science, Literary Spectres in Victorian and Modernist British Fiction, and Victorian Literature and Technology. I have supervised graduate work and honours theses on topics such as Dickens and nineteenth-century psychology; Victorian literature and astronomy; fin de siècle literature and late-century heredity theory; Thomas Hardy and automatism; A. C. Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and medical rhetoric; and Conrad and the city.
- Victorian Science as Cultural Authority. Editor, with James Paradis. (In Victorian Science and Literature Series). London: Pickering & Chatto, 2012.
- Victorian Interpretation. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2005.
(Winner of the Sonya Rudikoff Prize for the best first book in Victorian Studies)
- Knowing the Past: Victorian Literature and Culture. Editor. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001.
- “Sciences of the Mind.” The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century British Literature and Science. Ed. John Holmes and Sharon Ruston. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate (forthcoming, 2016).
- “Evolution and Entropy: Scientific Contexts in the Nineteenth Century.” A Companion to British Literature. Ed. Robert DeMaria. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, 52-67.
- “Naturalizing the Mind in the Victorian Novel: Consciousness in Wilkie Collins’s Poor Miss Finch and Thomas Hardy’s Woodlanders.” The Oxford Companion of the Victorian Novel. Ed. Lisa Rodensky. NY: Oxford University Press, 2013, 483-506.
- “Thomas Huxley: On the Hypothesis that Animals Are Automata.” Victorian Review 35:1(Spring, 2009): 50-53.
- “Teaching Literature and Ethics: The Particular and the General.” Teaching Literature. Eds. Ann Dean and Tanya Agathocleous. New York, Palgrave, 2002, 71-79.
- “George Eliot and Philosophy.” The Cambridge Companion to George Eliot. Ed., George Levine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001: 76-97.
- “Carlyle: Between Romantic Hermeneutics and Biblical Exegesis.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 40.1 (March 1998), 78-96.