Chair and Associate Professor, Humanities
BA Philosophy, Clark University
MA American Studies, New York University
PhD American Studies, New York University
My writing and research interests focus on the overlap of natural and cultural forces in American life, with a particular focus on bringing humanities disciplines into conversations about global climate change. To that end, I am currently working on a book-length project devoted to climate change and New England culture, with an expected publication of 2013.
I co-edited with Dean Natalie J. McKnight Culture and Context (Cognella Academic Publishing, 2013), a two-volume interdisciplinary humanities reader that examines the history and cultural context of major works of western literature and art.
In 2005, I was co-editor of Coming into Contact: New Essays in Ecocriticism (Athens: University of Georgia Press).
My most recent book, Beneath the Second Sun: A Cultural History of Indian Summer, explores the numerous ways that Indian summer weather has been experienced and portrayed in poetry, folklore, painting, and the popular imagination. I am interested in popular conceptions of the season as seen in magazine poetry and oral traditions concerning the history of this brief but beautiful time of year. I also examine how major writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickinson presented the season in their work. For them, Indian summer represented a unique moment when the cool temperatures of the fall are suddenly replaced by warm and dry air. It was a magical and poetic time of year that encouraged their respective meditations on mortality and the possibilities for spiritual and physical rebirth.
My first book, Reading Houses and Building Books: Andrew Jackson Downing and the Architecture of Popular Antebellum Fiction examine the relationship between garden writing, architecture, and fiction in the nineteenth century.
In 2006 I was honored as the Boston University United Methodist Church Scholar/Teacher of the Year; in 2009 I received the Peyton Richter Award for Interdisciplinary Teaching.
I have also been active in University governance, having served as Chair of the Boston University Faculty Council from 2010-2012. As Chair of the Faculty Council I served as an ex officio member of the BU Board of Trustees.