I was born in California's Central Valley, and majored in English at Tulane University. I hold MA degrees in English (University of Arkansas) and Southern (US) Studies (University of Mississippi). I completed my Ph.D. in English at the University of Iowa in 2005.
I am currently Associate Professor and Associate Department Chair of English at the University of South Florida, where I teach courses on nineteenth-century literature at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. My teaching and research interests include empire and imperial culture, popular culture, theatre, and literary adaptation.
My first book, which developed out of my dissertation, was published by Routledge in 2011. Nineteenth-Century Theatre and the Imperial Encounter explores the intersections of imperialism and the cultures of performance and popular spectacle. This study of more than 200 plays reveals that nineteenth-century plays set in India, Australia, and―to a lesser extent―Africa recreated the battles that consolidated Britain’s hold on overseas territories, dramatically depicted western humanitarian intervention in indigenous cultural practices, celebrated images of imperial supremacy, and occasionally criticized the sexual and material excesses that accompanied the processes of empire-building. Empire as it was seen on stage was empire as it was popularly known: the repetitions of character types, plot scenarios, and thematic concerns helped forge an idea of empire that, though largely imaginary, entertained, informed, and molded the theatre-going British public.
These days, my work focuses on literary adaptation, as I consider adaptation as a form of literary criticism. In a trio of NEH Summer Seminars for School Teachers (2011, 2014, and 2019, I explored some of the possibilities for using adaptation to provide students with a more robust engagement with literary texts. I outline the pedagogical potential of adaptation studies in an essay on “Teaching Adaptation” in the Oxford Handbook of Adaptation Studies (2016). Those seeking ideas for employing adaptations-based approaches to teaching Victorian literature may also interested in the "Teaching with Adaptations" lesson ideas I am compiling elsewhere on this site. I have also presented conference presentations on cinematic and narrative adaptation and pedagogy and have published essays on Dickens’s relationship with the theatre and (post-)modern culture. A third NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers (in 2016) explored a variety of historical, literary, and cultural approaches to teaching Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities.
My current project on nineteenth-century dramatizations of Dickens is supported by an EU Marie Curie Fellowship, under the sponsorship of London's Brunel University.