I teach a range of courses across the field of American literature, but I have special interests in contemporary literature, speculative fiction, Afrofuturism and indigenous futurisms, Gothic literature, and the environmental humanities. In my classes, students explore how narratives—the literary ones they study, the critical ones they craft, and the cultural ones among which they live—not only reflect and comment on, but also actively produce social worlds.
My scholarship addresses the ways in which literature mediates between individual experience and systemic explanations of inequity. My current book project (developed from my dissertation), Structures of Violence: Contemporary American Fictions of the Plantationocene, explores how contemporary American narratives experiment with genre and form in order to incorporate long histories of environmental violence into readers' understanding of the present. The project identifies structural violence as a defining feature of contemporary life and argues that literature offers a kind of cultural "laboratory" in which techniques for narrating this representationally challenging phenomenon can be honed. Some of the writers whose work I engage in this project include Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Ana Castillo, Tony Kushner, Helena María Viramontes, Gerald Vizenor, Colson Whitehead, and Jesmyn Ward.
My second project addresses the affective dimensions of contemporary discourses concerning environmental crisis. I'm especially interested in contrasting mainstream environmental rhetoric and academic writing from the environmental humanities with the forms of environmental imagination that Afrofuturism and indigenous futurism offer, and in examining the roles that grief, anger, and humor play in various projections of environmental futures.
- PhD, 2016, Duke University
- BA, 2010, Columbia University
Research and Project Interests
- American literature and culture
- Environmental and social justice
- Speculative fiction (especially Afrofuturism and indigenous futurism)
“The Best of Times, the Worst of Times, the End of Times?: The Uses and Abuses of Environmental Apocalypse.” Apocalypse, special issue of ASAP/Journal, vol. 3, no. 3, 2018: pp. 501-522.
“Nomenclature, Narrative, and Novum: ‘The Anthropocene’ and/as Science Fiction.” Science Fiction and the Climate Crisis, special issue of Science Fiction Studies, vol. 45, no. 3, 2018: pp. 484-499.
“New Wave SF and the Dawn of the Environmental Movement.” The Cambridge History of Science Fiction, edited by Gerry Canavan and Eric Carl Link, Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 434-446.
“Hyperempath.” Loanwords to Live With: An Ecotopian Lexicon, edited by Brent Bellamy and Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, University of Minnesota Press, 2019.
“Fantastic Futures? Cli-Fi, Climate Justice, and Queer Futurity.” Environmental Futurity, special issue of Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, vol. 4, no. 2-3, 2017, pp. 94-110.
“James Tiptree, Jr.: Rereading Ecofeminism and Essentialism in the 1970s.” The 1970s, special issue of Women’s Studies Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 3-4, 2015, pp. 223-239.
Reviews and Public Scholarship
Review of John Claborn, Civil Rights and the Environment in African-American Literature, 1895–1941, Sonya Posmentier, Cultivation and Catastrophe: The Lyric Ecology of Modern Black Literature, and Alexa Weik von Mossner, Affective Ecologies: Empathy, Emotion, and Environmental Narrative. American Literature, forthcoming 2019.
“Even Further Afield.” Review of Charlie Jane Anders, The City in the Middle of the Night. Los Angeles Review of Books, 27 July 2019.
Review of Stacy Alaimo, Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times, and Rebekah Sheldon, The Child to Come: Life After the Human Catastrophe. American Literature, vol. 90, no. 4, pp. 879-881.
“Engaging a World Through Speculative Fiction.” The Center for Innovative and Transformative Instruction, Winston-Salem State University, 16 Feb. 2018.
“What It Feels Like When Your World Ends.” Review of Black Wave by Michelle Tea. Public Books, 14 Feb. 2017.
“SF as Social Theory.” Review of Of Bodies, Communities, and Voices: Agency in Writings by Octavia Butler by Florian Bast. Science Fiction Studies, vol. 43, no. 3, 2016, pp. 573-575.
“Weather Permitting.” Review of Green Earth by Kim Stanley Robinson, Los Angeles Review of Books, 19 April 2016.
“Sci-Fi Feminism.” EqualityArchive.com, Nov. 2015.
English 4326 American Studies, fall 2019
English 1315 Black Speculative Literature of the 20th and 21st Centuries, fall 2019, fall 2018, spring 2018, and fall 2017
English 2302 World Literature II: Literary Monsters, spring 2019
English 3313 Studies in American Literature, spring 2019, spring 2018, and spring 2017
English 3374 Nineteenth-Century American Literature, fall 2018
IDS 3383 Topics in Interdisciplinary Studies: “Natural” Disasters, fall 2017
English 3302 Advanced Composition, spring 2017
English 1305 Thinking and Writing Critically About Literature, fall 2016
I have also taught literature and writing courses at Duke University and the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.
Undergraduate Scholarship in the Humanities Faculty Learning Community Fellowship, Winston-Salem State University, 2019-2020
NEH Summer Institute Participant Fellowship, “City/Nature: Urban Environmental Humanities,” 2017
NEH Summer Institute Participant Fellowship (declined), “What Happened to the Civil Rights Movement?” 2017
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2015-2016
Mitchell J. Connell Foundation Fellow, The Huntington Library, 2015
Honorable Mention, Annette Kolodny Environmental Studies Prize, 2015
James B. Duke Fellowship, Duke University, 2010-2014
May 2019 Panelist (“Environmental Science Fiction” and “The Supernatural in SF Literature”), Escape Velocity: From Imagination to Reality, the Museum of Science Fiction, Washington, D.C.
April 2019 “Infrastructural Violence and the New Black Gothic,” Americanist Speaker Series, Duke University
Nov. 2018 “Structures of Violence: Spectacle, Structure, and Storytelling in the Anthropocene,” Salisbury University
Oct. 2018 “Narratives of Climate Displacement,” Movements and Migrations: An Engaged Humanities Conference, Wake Forest University
April 2018 “Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene,” Wake Forest University
March 2018 Panelist, “The Other Side of Climate Change: A Discussion about Cape Town, Water, Overpopulation and What It Means for the Future of Humanity,” Winston-Salem State University
Jan. 2020 “Gothic Geo-memory and Plantation Afterlives,” Modern Language Association
Nov. 2019 Roundtable Participant, “Defining a Plantationocene for the Pacific,” American Studies Association
Oct. 2019 Seminar Participant, “N. K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth Trilogy,” Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present
June 2019 “Hyperempathy,” Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment
March 2019 “Genre, Geopoetics, and Cli-Fi of the Global South,” American Comparative Literature Association
Nov. 2018 Roundtable Participant, “American Studies in the Plantationocene: Emergent Methods for the Long Emergency,” American Studies Association
Oct. 2018 “Spectacle and Structure in Environmental Justice Arts and Activism,” Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present
Jan. 2018 “Speculative History, Speculative Futurity: Ecofeminist Afrofuturisms and Reclamation Ecopoetics,” Modern Language Association
Nov. 2017 “Deleted, Withheld: Anti-Archives of Climate Activism,” American Studies Association
Oct. 2017 “The Best of Times, the Worst of Times, the End of Times?: Apocalypse and Genre Hybridity in the Contemporary Ecological Imagination,” Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present
June 2017 “City, Living: Urban Apocalypse and Narrative Communities of Resistance,” Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment
Nov. 2016 “Nothing to Write Home About: Speculative Durations and Disruptions,” American Studies Association
American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)
American Studies Association (ASA)
Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (ASAP)
Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE)
Modern Language Association (MLA)
South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA)