I am interested in the way that places change over time and the ways that writers reckon with and represent these changes.  I am also interested in how literary representations of human engagement with the natural world in turn exert positive and negative pressure on the environment.

My scholarship makes use of the tools of  literary studies, religious studies, and environmental studies to consider sources and objects from the nineteenth century through the nineteen-forties (or the Civil War to World War Two, or American Romanticism through High Modernism).  As an ecocritic, I hope that my scholarship and my teaching can contribute in some small way to the tandem projects of making our relationship to our environment more sustainable and our relationships to each other more just.

My current book-length project is provisionally titled “Making the Bloom Desert: Nineteenth-Century  American Writing and the Desolation of the Holy Land.”  It argues that a few nineteenth century writers – chief among them, Mark Twain – desolated the Holy Land literarily, not literally, and that this literary desolation contributes to the region’s contemporary political and environmental problems.  The project recovers other, less famous British, American, Jewish, Israeli, and Palestinian writers’ accounts of the Holy Land to show that Twain’s characterization of the desolation of the land is not exactly the “truthful treatment of material” that we might expect from the most prominent American realist.

I have also just begun work on creative non-fiction project that is probably best described as an environmental history of Stoughton, Wisconsin.  For this project, I combine archival research with field work (hiking and skiing the fields, forests, and marshes just beyond Stoughton’s limits) to try to understand the corner of Dane county where I have chosen to settle.

Articles and Book Chapters

“The Field is Ripe: Christian Literary Scholarship, Post-Colonial Ecocriticism, and Environmentalism,” Christianity and Literature 65.3 (2016).

“Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad, the Survey of Western Palestine, and the Desolation of the Holy Land” in Transatlantic Literary Ecologies, ed. Kevin Hutchings and John Miller.  Routledge, 2017

“T.S. Eliot, Architecture, and Historic Preservation” in The Edinburgh Companion to T.S. Eliot and the  Arts, ed. Frances Dickey and John Morgenstern. Edinburgh UP, 2016.

“The Problem of the Prodigal in The Fair Maid of the West, The Renegado, and A Christian Turned Turk” in Renascence 64.4 (Summer 2012).

“Herman Melville’s Clarel” in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 1500-1900 (Brill)

“Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad” in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 1500-1900 (Brill)

Book Reviews

Rev. of Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane and Uncommon Ground by Dominick Tyler, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment 23.1 (Spring 2016).

Rev. of Textual Intimacy: Autobiography and Religious Identities by Wesley A. Kort, a/b Auto/Biography Studies 30.2 (Fall 2015).

Rev. of ‘Anglo-Catholic in Religion’: T.S. Eliot and Christianity by Barry Spurr, Christianity and Literature 61.2 (Winter 2012).

Recent and Upcoming Conference Presentations

“Preaching Climate Action to the Choir: Odds Against Tomorrow and the Possibilities of Religious Language,” ASLE Biennial Meeting, Detroit, Michigan, 2017.

“The New British Nature Writing: Macfarlane, Macdonald, and Jamie,” International Conference on Ecopoetics in Perpignan, June 2016

“Postcolonial Pastoral in Raja Shehadeh’s Palestinian Walks,” ASLE Biennial Meeting, Moscow, Idaho, June 2015

“By the Quad and On the Ground: Mapping Home at 1:24,000” contribution to Bioregionalism peer seminar at ASLE Biennial Meeting, Moscow, Idaho, June 2015

Works in Progress

“Enchantment as Wonder in The New Nature Writing: Macfarlane, Macdonald, and Jamie,” in Dwellings of Enchantment: Writing and Reenchanting the Earth, ed. Bénédicte Meillon.

“St. Louis 1905 and T.S. Eliot’s Loss of Faith” [article in progress]

“Making the Desert Bloom: Nineteenth-Century American Writing and the Desolation of the Holy Land” [monograph project]