Research

Monographs in progress

Experimental: American Literature and the Aesthetics of Knowledge
Why is the category of “experimental literature” so strongly associated with the historical avant-garde, and why does it nonetheless so strongly resist periodization? I argue that this category requires a complex double periodization, attending not only to the real scientific currents of the early twentieth century but also their remediation through the canonizing efforts of self-described experimental writers of the postwar age of Big Science.

The new social sciences of the turn of the twentieth century, whose human objects of study presented deep challenges to existing scientific norms, required an abstraction of method that both opened experimentalism up to a potentially infinite terrain (including literature) and deflected experiment’s historicity. What would become U.S. literary experimentalism thus flourished where the boundaries of epistemological authority were contested, often by the performance of gender, sexuality, race, and the “popular.” Yet its production and canonization as “experimental literature” is an artifact of Cold War poetic responses to what came to be seen as deep complicities between scientific knowledge and state power.

Childish Harms: Puerility and Provisional Violence in the Long Twentieth Century
Reading cultural objects from Twain’s satire to the Oulipian “gimmick” to the Harper’s Index, I investigate an aesthetic mode of playfulness whose potency draws on a disavowal of its own powers—what I call “puerility.” Puerility, from Latin puer (“boy”), embraces irresponsibility, provisionality, and unseriousness as a site of political power and of aesthetic pleasure. It frequently manifests as a pedantry (e.g. so-called “actually journalism“) or hyperformalism (as in the Oulipian lipogramme), and is often self-conscious and ironic about its methods. In this project, I draw on gender theory, childhood studies, and the history of statistics to examine puerility’s gendering, its aesthetics, its politics of youth, its limitations, and its history from the previous Gilded Age to the present one.
[The folks at the Hagley Museum and Library did a great job of editing my rambling about this project into something semicoherent.]

Essays

Experimentalism by Contact.”
“Language between Scientific and Humanistic Knowledge,” ed. Brian Lennon, spec. issue of diacritics, 43.1 (Fall 2015): 6-35.
Here is an interview with Brian Lennon about the special issue.
Everybody’s Authority.”
PMLA 130.2 (March 2015): 453-460, “The Changing Profession: The Semipublic Intellectual,” ed. Phillip Maciak and Liliana Loofbourow.
“Environmental Innocence and Slow Violence.”
WSQ 43.1-2 (Spring-Summer 2015), “Child,” ed. Sarah Chinn and Anna Mae Duane: 164-180.
“Ways of Not Reading Gertrude Stein.”
ELH 82.1 (Spring 2015): 281-312.
“Sentimental Spaces: On Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s Nest.”
Jacket2 (23 May 2011).
“Marianne Moore’s Precision.”
Arizona Quarterly 67.4 (Winter 2011): 83-110.
“Introduction: Theory and the Virtues of Digital Humanities” and “When Digital Humanities Was in Vogue.”
Journal of Digital Humanities 1.1 (Winter 2011).
“Evaluation.”
In Roland Greene and Stephen Cushman, eds., The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th edition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012.

Public writing

“Cats, Babies, and Other Hurtable Creatures”
New Criticals (10 December 2015; based on a talk delivered at the American Studies Association, Toronto, ON, October 2015).
“Apple’s Modernism, Google’s Modernism: Some Reflections on Alphabet, Inc., and a Suggestion that Modernist Architect Adolf Loos Would Be Totally Into Soylent”
Works Cited (11 August 2015).
“On the Neoliberal Rhetoric of Harm.” [on trigger warnings]
The old Works Cited (July 2014).
“League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”
The New Inquiry 24 (January 2014).
“Humanities Scholarship Is Incredibly Relevant, and That Makes People Sad”
The old Works Cited (January 2014).
“An ABC of Puerility: Anderson, Britten, Crane.” [rev. of Moonrise Kingdom, 2012]
The New Inquiry/Zunguzungu blog (June 2012).
“The Passion of Nate Silver (Sort Of).”
The old Works Cited (November 2012).

Other

The Time-Sense: On Stein’s Repetition.
Conference talk. “Against Innovation” panel, Modernist Studies Association, Buffalo, NY, 2011. [A precursor to “Ways of Not Reading Gertrude Stein,” 2015.]

Look up a journal’s open access policy.

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