My research and teaching explore transnational literature and culture with a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries. I received my PhD from Princeton University and my MA and BA from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to arriving at Cornell, I was Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow of Irish Literature at New York University. I’ve published essays on post-war English and Irish novelists, Irish poetry and the tourism industry, the poetics of the Cultural Cold War, contemporary crime fiction, and am the co-editor of The Cracked Lookingglass: Essays in Honor of the Leonard L. Milberg Collection of Irish Prose Writers (2010), a collection of original essays by Paul Muldoon, Colm Tóibín, Paige Reynolds, Terence Brown, Clair Wills, and others that traces the history of Irish prose from 1800 to the present.
In my book The Poetics of Large Numbers: Long Poems, Imperial Metrics, and Cosmopolitical Space, I argue that the long poem becomes a signal form of world literary production and comparison precisely because it locates a challenge for verse cultures’ survival in an increasingly quantified world. The “long poem,” seemingly neutral in its claims for formal definition, in fact names a changing relationship between poetic labor and geopolitical synchronization. By historicizing the gap between world poetry’s humanistic ideas of extension and state agencies’ concurrent, competing statistical conscriptions of global scale, I forge new analytic methods capable of charting poetic measurement’s material and archival connections with astronomical, geodetic, and economic acts of mensuration. Extending outward from case studies in the transnational amplifications of U.S. poets Edgar Allan Poe and William Carlos Williams, I demonstrate the often surprising technical facilities of poesis by looking to a vast cross-disciplinary archive of texts: from medieval Indian studies of prosody and combinatorics (and their de-poeticized translation into English by agents of the East India Company), to 18th century mathematical riddles and cosmologies, to modern and contemporary long poems by authors such as M. NourbeSe Philip (whose books Looking for Livingston and Zong! center my third significant case study), Will Alexander, Dionne Brand, Aimé Césaire, Craig Santos Perez, Tommy Pico, Gertrude Stein, and others.
I am also currently researching and drafting pieces toward a second book on transnational poetry and global-regional cartography that will advance a methodology of what I call “logarithmic reading.” Along with studies of poetry, I’m writing a shorter book project about comic books, material access, and “delinquent reading” in the history of serialized media. Across all of my research and teaching, I am keen to invite people to take part in an archivally-based investigation of the ways we measure acts of literacy and numeracy. I love to think about and discuss long poems and comic books because neither will allow for simple, final answers to the question of what it means to “finish” a book, a page, or an idea, throwing us back on our collective improvisations and communal elaborations of what, for our given situation, constitutes equity, sufficiency, plenitude. I like to discover odd angles on the overlapping histories of science/technology and literature. Against the ongoing techno-dystopian dominance of colonial modes of enumeration, comics can help us think about how to “draw together” and poems can help us to reimagine and resist how we, as readers and people, “count.”
- 19th, 20th, and 21st century Anglophone literatures
- Comparative and transnational poetry and poetics
- Institutional histories of literary culture
- Mathematics and Poetry/Literature and the History of Science
- Irish studies
- Comic studies