My ongoing research is focused on issues relating to contemporary American literature, literature and science, environmental literature, and material culture. My monograph The Practice of Misuse: Rugged Consumerism in Contemporary American Culture (Stanford University Press, 2014) examines the emergence in late twentieth-century American literature and culture of new figures—“rugged consumers”—who creatively misuse, reuse, and repurpose objects in their environments to suit their idiosyncratic needs and desires. In its discussion of rugged consumer representations, the book offers new ways of understanding how economic and environmental anxieties influence cultural artifacts during the contemporary period. A related story on how these ideas apply to maker culture is available here.
Recently, I have become interested in representations of human-animal relationships—particularly relationships that operate beyond conventional human-centered frameworks—and this subject will be the basis of my next book project. My first article on this subject was published in the “Animal Worlds in Modern Fiction” special issue of the journal Modern Fiction Studies (2014). I developed a second animal studies article that examines representations of epizootic diseases (that is, diseases that affect nonhuman animals), which will be published by Critical Inquiry. A related story is available in the Washington Post.
The Practice of Misuse: Rugged Consumerism in Contemporary American Culture. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2014.
"On the origin of 'Oops': The Language and Literature of Animal Disease" (accepted at Critical Inquiry)
“Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table: Chemistry as Posthumanist Science." Configurations 24.4 (2016): 417-440.
“Climate-Change Infrastructure and the Volatilization of Contemporary American Regionalism.” Modern Fiction Studies 61.4 (2015): 715-730.
“‘Some new dimension devoid of hip and bone’: Remediated Bodies and Digital Posthumanism in Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story.” Arizona Quarterly 71.4 (2015): 107-127.
“Narrative Disruption as Animal Agency in Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing.” Modern Fiction Studies 60.3 (2014): 544-561. Reprinted in Philosophical Approaches to Cormac McCarthy: Beyond Reckoning. New York: Routledge, 2017.
“Regeneration Through Misuse: Rugged Consumerism in Contemporary American Culture.” PMLA 127.3 (2012): 526-541. Reprinted in Literary Criticism: Chuck Palahniuk. New York: Cengage, 2014.
“William Gibson’s Paternity Test.” Configurations 19.1 (2011): 25-48.
“‘Anything can be an instrument’: Misuse Value and Rugged Consumerism in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men.” Contemporary Literature 50.4 (2009): 721-741.
“‘My Newish Voice’: Rethinking Black Power in Gwendolyn Brooks’s Whirlwind.” Callaloo 29.2 (2006): 531-544. Reprinted in Critical Insights: Gwendolyn Brooks. Ed. Mildred R. Mickle. Pasadena: Salem Press, 2009. 254-276. and Poetry Criticism. Volume 138. Independence: Gale, 2013.