- Victorian literature
- Intellectual history and the history of ideas
- History of science
- Literatures and histories of war
- Gender studies
- Colonial and postcolonial studies
- Media studies
- Visual culture
- Genre studies
- Cultural studies
- Histories of socio-political movements
I am currently working on two book projects that explore the intersections of literature, science and social movements in nineteenth-century Britain. The first project—“Forms of Persuasion in Nineteenth-Century Britain”—explores the history of persuasion, as writers various conceived of the philosophy and practice of persuasion, or what writers called “rhetorical force,” in the context of the Napoleonic wars, the rise of modern sciences and social and political reform movements of the period. I argue that new conceptions of persuasion emerged in the nineteenth century and that we can retell the emergence of nineteenth-century genres as various, intertwined “experiments in persuasion”—from lyric poetry and the realist novel to war journalism and statistical writing.
The second project extends the literary and intellectual history of my first project by investigating the origins of modern academic disciplines by examining and historicizing the emergence of the modern academic journal. This second project is a hybrid project combining traditional literary historical practices of close reading with new methods of digital humanities research. Using data-mining software, I study the development of scholarly discourses across a wide range of scholarly journals that emerged in the middle- and late-nineteenth century from across disciplines, including biology, anthropology, political science, and literary studies. I locate a shared origin of such disciplines in a common syntactical pattern that I have identified in those journals: namely, a concern with the “forms of…” things that disciplines study. The project thus also offers a new history of nineteenth century formalism by identifying the unique concept of form that, as I show, writers did not inherit from the Enlightenment but, rather, that they invented in the context of ongoing social, political, intellectual, and scientific developments peculiar to the nineteenth century.