Research Interests19th & 20th-Century American Literature & Culture; Cultural Studies
In both my teaching and my scholarship, I find myself centrally engaged with the relationship between literature and popular culture, mostly, though not exclusively, in the twentieth- and twenty-first century United States. Methodologically, my approach to this relationship combines sociological analysis of the cultural field with close readings of individual texts. My first book, Authors Inc.: Literary Celebrity in the Modern United States, 1880-1980, chronicles the emergence of literary celebrity in the late nineteenth century, as a strategy for negotiating the tensions between elite and popular conceptions of authorship, up through its contemporary manifestations. I hold a joint appointment with the Center for the Book, and my more recent scholarship engages the emergent fields of book studies and the new sociology of literature. My second book was a history of Grove Press entitled Counter-Culture Colophon: Grove Press, the Evergreen Review and the Incorporation of the Avant-Garde (Post*45 Series with Stanford University Press); it has recently been reprinted in paperback by Seven Stories Press under the title Rebel Publisher: Grove Press and the Revolution of the Word. Since then, I’ve been studying the history of creative writing, which has resulted in an edited collection entitled, After the Program Era: The Past, Present, and Future of Creative Writing in the University (Iowa, 2017). I’m currently working on a literary history of Iowa City to be called City of Literature. In the meantime, I’ve been able to complete a study of Carole King’s Tapestry for Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series.
I’ve also worked diligently on improving the climate and culture of our department, college, and university in terms of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I’ve taken BUILD Courses on “A Closer Look at Race in America,” “The Dynamics of Difference,” “Beyond the Numbers,” and “Exploring Unconscious Bias.” I also helped establish the Division of DEI’s workshop on “Exploring White Identity,” which I co-facilitate. As DEO, I composed the Racial Justice Action Plan which constitutes the charge of our new permanent committee on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Social Justice (IDEAS).