• Ph.D. Emory University
  • B.A. Davidson College


Like all Davidson English majors (class of 1987), I am passionate about many things. 

I specialize in early modern British literature, the period from about 1500 until about 1800.  During that time, exceptionally skilled writers and artists probed what it means to be human.  They were sensitive to each detail of these questions:  who is included and excluded in understandings of “human”; how imaginatively people can shape language, which, in turn, shapes them; and the ways that the transformative potential of genres (such as a play or an epic) and the transformative potential of media (such as an oral performance or a private manuscript) open new ways of framing questions that were already ancient in the 1600s.  Within this rich field, much of my scholarship focuses on how the first printed books experimented with the possibilities of literature, authorship, and readership.

The topics that concerned early modern writers and artists continue for us, their late- or post-modern heirs.  For example, when college students consider how differing social media seem to produce differing identities, they consider how a distinctive self can be represented in culturally available forms, a theme that fascinated Shakespeare, Elizabeth I, Milton, and their contemporaries.  My work with students at Davidson accordingly starts with listening to them; it then shifts to trying to match students’ deepest concerns to the concerns of brilliant figures from a vast intellectual tradition, a network of texts that stretches long before and long after the early modern period. 

My work at Davidson is thus grounded in some of the most influential texts of the English literature, yet constantly reshaped by students and colleagues, in conversations that often do not seem like "work" at all.


  • Writing Criticism
  • British Literature to 1800
  • Tradition and Originality, 1660-1900
  • Early British Literature and Media
  • Introduction to Comedy
  • Milton
  • Literary Satans
  • Renaissance Revenge