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Graduate Courses Taught (click course title for syllabus)


Utopia Then and Now (Spring 2022)

Everyone seems “over” utopia. Judging by the recent proliferation of dystopian and post-apocalyptic movies, comics, and novels, there seems to be little appetite left for the imaginative construction of idealized worlds. And yet reading and teaching utopian thought—both political theory and literary texts—seems more important than ever in our current political moment. In Four Futures: Visions of the World After Capitalism (2016), political theorist Peter Frase posits four outcomes of human civilization in the wake of climate change and mass automation: two possible utopias (communism and socialism) and two possible dystopias (rentism and exterminism), with the crucial deciding factor being distribution. In other words, it is in our power as a species to create either heaven or hell on earth, and that power is political. We cannot build what we cannot imagine. In this course we will trace the long, rich, and complex history of utopian (and dystopian) thought in literature and political theory. We will begin with Thomas More’s Utopia and then move to the uptake of utopianism in the last decades of the nineteenth century (when literally hundreds of utopian novels were published) and its further development in the 20th and 21st centuries. The last weeks of the class will focus on contemporary science fiction by women and authors of color, who have pushed the utopian genre in fascinating new directions in recent years. Along the way we will engage with utopian theory in politics, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literary criticism. Course texts will include: More, Utopia; Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance; Bellamy, Looking Backward; Morris, News from Nowhere; Hudson, A Crystal Age; Trollope, The Fixed Period; Wells, A Modern Utopia; Skinner, Walden Two; Callenbach, Ecotopia; Butler, Parable of the Sower; LeGuin, The Dispossessed; Robinson, Pacific Edge; Okorafor, Lagoon; and theory and criticism by Fredric Jameson, Ernst Bloch, Ruth Levitas, Herbert Marcuse, and others.

Victorian Environmentalisms (Fall 2020)

The Victorian era witnessed the exponential growth of the central drivers of anthropogenic climate change: colonial expansion and the industrial revolution. This course examines nineteenth-century British and Anglophone writing about nature and the environment from our own current perspective of environmental degradation and ecological collapse. In particular, we will examine the ways in which nineteenth-century writers anticipated some aspects of current ecological thought: the ways they evinced an understanding of “nature” as a cultural construct, and engaged in (explicit and implicit) critiques of industrialization and the environmental effects of colonialism. The course will explore specifically Victorian responses to environmental crisis, both literary and journalistic, and recent Victorianist ecocriticism. Authors will include Victorian writers John Ruskin, William Stanley Jevons, William Morris, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Olive Schreiner, Richard Jefferies, Emily Brontë, and Thomas Hardy; and contemporary critics Jason Moore, Rob Nixon, Andreas Malm, Amitav Ghosh, Jesse Oak Taylor, Elizabeth Carolyn Miller, and Benjamin Morgan, among others.

New Feminisms: Materialism and Beyond (Fall 2018)

Recent ecocritical (and other) theory has taken as a central task the dismantling of the instrumentalist view of the relationship between nature and humankind. Such challenges can be roughly divided into two groups: 1. Heideggerean approaches such as speculative realism and object-oriented ontology (Meillassoux, Harman, Morton) that posit a radically unknowable object which “withdraws” not only from human epistemological mastery but also from other objects; and 2. Spinozist-Deleuzean approaches such as new/vital/feminist materialisms that centralize matter as opposed to object and favor models of complex systems of relations such as networks and flows. Both sets of approaches are committed to a radical de-centering of human subjectivity and agency and an ethically driven emphasis on nonhuman actants. In this seminar we will focus on works from the second camp—recent feminist and gender theory that challenges the linguistic and ontological turns in philosophy by arguing for the ireduceability of the material world. We will accompany this reading with plenty of context: authors from the first camp as well as readings from the longer history of feminist theory and criticism.

Graduate Research Methods (Fall 2015 and Fall 2016)

Introduction to graduate study for first-year M.A. students.  Topics will include bibliography, research methods, publication, conference presentations, and thesis-writing.


Victorian Utopias (Fall 2015)

The late Victorian period saw an efflorescence of interest in imagined other worlds, from the persistent fantasy of sheltering domesticity to science-fiction utopias to geometric hyperspace to Buddhist Nirvana.  In this course we will examine the underlying exteriorizing impulse behind these various discourses: an attempt to mark off, often in quite literal terms, new spheres of privilege, meaning, and presence by banishing perceived threats to disciplinary and civilizing boundaries.  We will focus particularly on three popular disciplines: the British “discovery” of Buddhism, higher-dimensional geometry (or “hyperspace philosophy”), and spiritualism.  Our investigations will thus lead us to nineteenth-century theories of selfhood, mind, consciousness, and reason, and how these theories are elaborated in and by Victorian fiction.  We will pay particular attention to descriptions of consciousness in which deeply (and dearly) held notions of rationality and self seem to break down: at the boundaries between everyday experience and trance, the natural and the supernatural, Euclidean and higher-dimensional space.  How did Victorian literary authors contribute to (and how were they shaped by) these emergent discourses of “other-worldliness” and utopia?  How and in what ways did narrative techniques such as free indirect discourse and stream of consciousness respond to these new ideas?


Victorian Spaces (Summer 2012)

In this course we will analyze various conceptions of interiority—architectural, psychological, and literary—and narrative structures in the Victorian and early-Modernist novel.  The 1851 census defined a family as the “persons under one head” who enjoyed “the exclusive command of the entrance-hall and stairs—and the possession of the free space between the ground and sky.”  The interior spaces of Victorian domestic architecture were thus seen as constitutive of the family and the individual, particularly when considered in contradistinction to the outdoor public spaces that simultaneously threatened dissolution and afforded freedom to the stroller, the shopper, and the poet.  Our avenues of investigation in this course will thus include Victorian domestic architecture and interiors and urban and street spaces such as arcades and parks.  We will read novels and critical and aesthetic theory (both nineteenth-century and contemporary) in an attempt to understand the felt connections between the literal spaces of the home and city and the metaphorical spaces of the psyche and the body.


Victorian Aesthetic Theory (Summer 2010)

It is impossible to understand the intellectual history of the British nineteenth century without grappling with Victorian aesthetic theory.  For the Victorians, aesthetics was much more than a systematic theory of the beautiful, but was also inextricably interconnected with the great social questions of the day: poverty, political economy, slavery, and the “woman question.”  In this course we will read a hefty dose of the writing of Victorian “sages” (with an introductory foray into Coleridge), paying particular attention to the ways that theories of the beautiful and good underpinned a broader social and political praxis in the nineteenth century.  We will also read contemporary criticism alongside the original texts, and interrogate the relationship between Victorian aesthetic theory and the central theoretical and methodological issues confronting literary scholars at the moment.


Topics and Research in Victorian Studies (Spring 2009 & Spring 2011)

This course will serve as an introduction to advanced research in the British Victorian period, and thus will be suitable both for those students with little familiarity with the period and for those who contemplate further graduate work in Victorian studies.  Our goals will be three-fold: 1. To discuss the large social, historical, and philosophical themes of the period, including political reform, gender issues, religious crisis, evolution and science, and empire; 2. To acquire (or deepen) familiarity with major Victorian texts and authors; 3. To gain an understanding of the central theoretical and methodological issues confronting Victorianist scholars at the moment.


Late-Victorian Theories of the Self (Spring 2007)

In this course, we will explore nineteenth-century theories of selfhood, mind, consciousness, and reason, and how these theories are elaborated in and by late-Victorian fiction.  We will pay particular attention to “limit cases,” places where deeply (and dearly) held notions of rationality and self seem to break down: at the boundaries between animal and human, sane and insane, European and “other,” and natural and supernatural.  While we will inevitably refer back to the mid-century Victorian novel (and forward to Freud), our focus will be on the later decades of the century as we try to understand fin-de-siècle literary experimentation in the context of monumental shifts in psychological theory and theories of the self.

2010 - present

2010 - present

Undergraduate Courses Taught (email me to request a syllabus)


English and Honors College, University of Mississippi

upper-level:   The Brontës and Their World (Fall 2023)

                        Introduction to Gender & Sexuality Studies (Fall 2022)

                        The Victorian City and Urban Environments (Spring 2021 & Fall 2021)

                        Victorian Environmentalisms (Spring 2020)

                        Victorian Ecotopia & Apocalypse (Fall 2019)

honors:          Honors 101 & 102 (Fall 2021 & Spring 2022)

                        British Literature from 1800 to the Present (Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021)

intro-level:     British Literature from 1800 to the Present (Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023)

English, University of British Columbia

upper-level:   Literature of 19th-Century British Colonialism (Spring 2015 & Spring 2016)

                        The City in 19th-Century British Literature (Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Spring 2019)

                        Psychoanalysis and Literature (Honours Seminar) (Fall 2009)

                        Victorian Poetry (Fall 2008)

                        The Victorian Novel (Spring 2008 & Fall 2009)

                        Victorian Prose (Spring 2007 & Fall 2010)

                        How to Read Middlemarch (Fall 2007, Spring 2011, Fall 2014)

intro-level:     Literature of the Anthropocene (Spring 2017 & Spring 2019)

                        Approaches to Literature: Altered States (Fall 2010 & Spring 2015)

                        Introduction to Literary Theory (Spring 2009)

                        Approaches to Literature: Literary Space-Time (Fall 2006, Spring 2008, Fall 2009)

                        Literature in Britain: The 18th Century to the Present (Fall 2006, Fall 2007, Fall 2008)


Arts One, University of British Columbia

first-year honours:  Explorations and Encounters (Fall-Spring 2012-13 & 2013-14)


English, Warren Wilson College

upper-level:   Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (Fall 2005)

                        The Enlightenment (Spring 2005)

                        Romanticism (Spring 2004)

mid-level:       The Novel (Fall 2004 & Spring 2006)

                        Literature by Women (Spring 2004 & Spring 2005)

                        Gender Issues in the Nineteenth Century (Fall 2003)

intro-level:     Introduction to Poetry (Fall 2004 & Spring 2006)

                        Introduction to Fiction (Fall 2003)

                        College Composition I (Fall and Spring, 2003-2006)


English, Duke University

grad/undergrad:  Victorian Literature (Fall 2002)

upper-level:          Three Social Problems in the Victorian Novel (Fall 2002)


English, Mississippi State University

grad/undergrad:  Nineteenth-Century British Novel (Spring 2002)

                                Victorian Poets and Prose Writers (Fall 2000)

upper-level:           Women and Literature (Spring 2002)

intro-level:             British Literature II (Fall 2000, Spring 2001, Fall 2001, Spring 2002)


English, Keene State College

upper-level:   Feminist Interventions in Popular Culture (Spring 2000)

                         Jane Austen (Fall 1999)

                        Charles Dickens (Spring 1999)

mid-level:       Introduction to Narrative (Spring 2000)

                        British Literature 1800-1950 (Spring 2000 & Fall 1998)

                        Feminist Interventions in Popular Culture (Spring 1999)

                        Victorian Novel (Fall 1999)

                        Victorian Poetry (Spring 1999 & Fall 1998)

intro-level:     Essay Writing (Fall 1999 & Fall 1998)


English, Comparative Literature, & Women’s Studies, Northwestern University

grad/undergrad:  Victorian Literature and Economic Theory (Spring 1998)

                                Romantics and Victorians in Dialogue (Winter 1998)

                                Nineteenth-Century British Fiction (Fall 1997)

                                Law and Literature (Fall 1997 & Fall 1995)

                                Victorian Poetry (Spring 1997)

                                History of Literary Criticism: Kant to Coleridge (Spring 1997 & Spring 1996)

                                Feminist Interventions in Popular Culture (Fall 1996)

                                Defoe, Richardson, Fielding (Fall 1995)

upper-level:           Introduction to Fiction (Winter 1997)

                                Introductory Seminar in English: Fiction (Winter 1996)

intro-level:             Sex, Gender, and the Victorian Novel (Spring 1998, Winter 1998, Winter 1997, 

                                   Fall 1996)

                                Detective Fiction (Spring 1996 & Winter 1996)


University College, Northwestern University

upper-level:   Law and Literature (Summer 1993 & Fall 1993)

                        Problems of Female Authorship (Summer 1992)

intro-level:     Effective Reading and Writing (Spring 1995 & Spring 1994)

                        Fundamentals of English (Fall 1994)

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