Sic transit America: Novels in, of, beyond, and below the United States, 1928–1941 is the name of the project I am currently writing under the direction of Lauren Berlant and Kenneth W. Warren. The dissertation sits at the intersection of my interests in:
- Early 20th century American novels. I am writing about James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy, John Dos Passos’s U.S.A., Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here. Each work engages with radical and communist politics of the early 20th century.
- (Human) geography and quantitative literary criticism. All these works are very closely attached to real world, and I have been able to collect data about the geographies constructed in the worlds of the novels. Then I have used techniques from GIS to draw conclusions on how, for example, characters are dispersed in a work.
- Belonging and community. The works I investigate feature characters that frequently blend into their surroundings, either becoming part of a larger human community or part of a larger community of human and nonhuman objects.
- Realism as a literary genre and (Speculative) realism as a philosophical ontology. As the notions of individual (or character) and community (of objects) become more and more inter-related while still independent, it becomes impossible to maintain a human-centric, correlationist account of the world within literature.
- Non-scalar and affective accounts of relations. Entities like communities, characters and their surroundings become considerable as proper “sites,” with their own internal relationships that can be occasionally rhythmically stratifying and occasionally unpredictably deterritorializing, reforming the object of the site. As the component objects keep agitating each other they imply from another direction the necessity of a non-human literary criticism.
- Metonymy and chronotopes. A non-human literary criticism forces humans, characters, texts, worlds in texts, and the like into a cacophony of objects—all real, all metonymically (as opposed to metaphorically) connected. Furthemore, the worlds in novels are chronotopically connected to the worlds in which the novels are written, as the author is influenced by the specific chronotopes of her time and space.
- Counterfactual worlds and alternatives to neoliberalism. The specific chronotopes of the novels influence the world in which they exist as well, meaning every realist novel is a counterfactual political project that can suggest a (potentially even radical) refiguring of our contemporary political world.
Other interests →
Beyond what gets sufficient coverage in my dissertation, there are a wider set of interests that circulate around those key themes. I keep tabs on work done on early 20th century African-American and American communist literature, and I was lucky enough to assist in a course on Latina/o literature and intellectual thought. Regarding the novel as a generic object of study, I’m interested in theories of the novel, histories of the novel, and contemporary attempts to use “distant reading” techniques to help better conceptualize this giant object called “the novel.”
Outside of specific literary fields, my interest in community and belonging extends other forms of identity expression within groups, such as nationalism. This is best expressed in the course I designed and taught in 2008, “Male Fantasy Sports” (syllabus), where the students and I read theoretical texts on masculinity, sexuality, and nationalism before moving to three literary objects about baseball and three about football (soccer) in England.
The literature surrounding English football hooligans, including fictional objects about them, fictional objects by them, as well as ethnographies and memoirs, continues to appeal to me as a crucible in which bubble concerns about the state, empire, individuality, and the power and appeal of the collective. Some of these ideas I collected into a 2012 article for The Classical, called “Paris is Earning,” about neoliberalism and Parisian football hooligans. While not a work of literary criticism, the article shows a possible future line of inquiry for me.
Publications, etc. →
Popular articles →
- “Studs Lonigan’s Failing Bodies and Other Objects Subject to Change” at the Interdisciplinary Workshop in Paris. February 2012.
- “‘Think about Montana. I Can’t. Think about Madrid. I Can’t. Think about a Cool Drink of Water. All Right.’” at the Interdisciplinary Workshop in Paris. March 2011.
- At “Frontiers in Spatial Humanities” at the NEH Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship at the Scholar's Lab at UVA. May 2010.
- “America’s Largest DG Network: The U.S.A. as the Protagonist of U.S.A.” at the Interdisciplinary Workshop in Paris. December 2009.
- “Lines of Flight (and Other Nation-Building Vectors)” at the American Cultures Workshop. May 2009.
- “Beyond ‘Flat Maps’: GIS in the Humanities” for a Humanities Computing TechTalk. June 2009.
- “Reorganization of Princely Hyderabad” in Datla, Kavita. The Language of Secular Islam: Urdu Nationalism and Colonial India. Forthcoming.
- Multiple maps in Howard, Hugh. Mr. and Mrs. Madison’s War: America’s First Couple and the Second War of Independence. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Press, 2012.
- “Pakistan.” in Ahmed, Manan. Where the Wild Frontiers Are: Pakistan and the American Imagination. Charlottesville, VA: Just World Books, 2011.
- “GIS” tag at Donkey Hottie, which includes nonce maps for quick analysis.
- English at the École nationale des chartes, from 2010–2011.
- “Male Fantasy Sports” at the University of Chicago in Winter, 2008. Syllabus (pdf). Evaluations (for UofC computers).
- (As teaching assistant) “Latina/o Intellectual Thought” in Spring, 2008, with Raúl Coronado, Jr.
- (As teaching assistant) “Shakespeare: Histories and Comedies” in Winter, 2006, with David Bevington.