I am a native New Yorker—born and raised on the lower east side of Manhattan. My first job took me to Baltimore MD (UMBC). Before coming to WSU I held teaching appointments at Oberlin College, Harvard and Brown Universities.
In addition to Truth Stranger than Fiction: Race, Realism and the U.S. Literary Marketplace (Palgrave 2002), my essays have appeared in American Literature, Callallo, International Journal of Philosophy, New England Quarterly, Prospects, and Textual Cultures as well as Prophets of Protest edited by John Stauffer and Tim McCarthy (Free Press 2005) and Critical Essays on The Bondswoman's Narrative, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Hollis Robbins (Basic Books, 2003).
My research interests include a range of concerns involving U. S. literature and culture of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. My first book, Truth Stranger than Fiction: Race, Realism and the U. S. Literary Marketplace (Palgrave 2002), shows the influence that nineteenth-century African American literature had on 20th century American mainstream texts by using the lens of business history to reread literary history. My second book, Thinking Outside the Book, grew out of my interest, first explored in Truth Stranger than Fiction, in the relationship between race, market and gender—an area I felt went underexamined in my first book. I am also in the preliminary phases of my third book project, tentatively titled, "Behind the Palmetto Fan: Mary Surratt, Presidential Assassin." Little scholarly attention has been given to the first woman executed in the United States; examining Surratt's involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln will bring together study of law, literature, race, gender and region yielding an intellectual and cultural history of the tumultuous period in the United States.
Graduate Teaching Interests
I regularly teach courses that focus on the intersections of race, gender, media, material culture and literary history in the 19th and 20th Century U.S. Because I ask students to use a wide range of source material I like to focus on methodology as a way of understanding both the interpretation and the interpretative process. Perhaps because I came from a background of philosophy—I majored in philosophy as an undergraduate at the New School for Social Research and began graduate school in philosophy—I have always concerned myself with not only what we do but why and how we do the things we do in a literary classroom.