Areas of Research:
18th and 19th century British literature, Romanticism, Scottish literature and the Scottish Enlightenment, gender and postcolonial theory, children in literary culture, the emergence of popular and national literary culture in late 18th- and 19-century Britain.
British Romanticism and Childhood. Forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, 2011.
- “The Childish Origins of Literary Studies,” Child’s Children: Ballad Study and its Legacies, ed. Barbara Hillers and Joseph Harris, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2011.
- “Sentimental Fiction.” The Cambridge Companion to Romantic Fiction, ed. Katie Trumpener and Richard Maxwell, 2008.
- “Romantic Poetry and the Romantic Novel.” The Cambridge Companion to Romantic Poetry, ed. James Chandler and Maureen McLane, 2008.
- “’The Fause Nourice Sang’: Childhood, Child Murder and the Formalism of the Scottish Ballad Revival.” Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism, ed. Ian Duncan, Leith Davis, Janet Sorensen, 2004.
- “Wordsworth’s Children of the Revolution.” Studies in English Literature, vol. 41 (Autumn 2001).
Hall Center for the Humanities Research Fellowship; Houghton Library Joan Nordell Fellowship; American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant; American Association of University Women Postdoctoral Research Fellowship; Conger-Gabel Teaching Professorship; Mortar Board National Honor Society Outstanding Educator.
In all my work, I am interested in the social construction and cultural work of literature: how literary texts are framed, read, given value, as well as how they act on and produce other literary and cultural forms. The major focus of my first book project was on childhood and Romantic literary culture. In the Romantic period, the child came fully into its own as the object of increasing social concern and cultural investment and, at the same time, the development of a vernacular, national literary tradition was a significant pre-occupation of a variety of writers. In Romanticism and Childhood, I analyze how new ideas of childhood (theories of infancy and development, notions of childhood language and memory) enabled new conceptions of history and literary culture, at the same time that a newly expanded sense of national literature (one that included popular, trivial and native literary forms) brought the child and childhood into the arena of cultural production and reproduction. In short, I investigate the ways in which modern literary culture and modern childhood emerged together in the years of cultural transformation we know as the Romantic period.
I am currently at work on a new project, tentatively titled "Keats in America," which examines Keats' nineteenth-century American reception, investigating a group of Boston writers and collectors who raised money in American to erect a monument to Keats in Hampstead, funded museums and monuments in London and Rome, assembled rather quirky collections of Keats memorabilia and wrote scholarly biographies of the poet. Here I am interested in the question of what role Americans, an idea of America, and the transatlantic exchange of money, manuscripts, artifacts and other forms of cultural capital played in the formation of Keats' posthumous reputation and critical reception. This project is also a history of reading that explores how the affective connections these American readers made to "Keats" and his poetry, the fan culture they created around the figure of "Keats" and how they understood their acts of "collecting" and "recreating" the life of Keats.