- Herman Melville Distinguished Professor of American Literature
Nineteenth-Century U. S. Literature and Culture; Transcendentalism; Science and Literature; African American Literature; American Studies.
Selected Publications —
The Book That Changed America: How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation, Viking Press, January 2017.
Reviewed in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Science, Nature, Los Angeles Review of Books, New York Journal of Books, Christian Science Monitor, Financial Times, The Humanist, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and others.
From Battlefields Rising: How the Civil War Transformed American Literature, Oxford
University Press, 2011. Reviewed in American Literary History, Journal of American Studies, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Journal of American History, New England Quarterly, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, Civil War History, Social History, The Boston Globe, Christianity & Literature, Library Journal, The Weekly Standard, and others.
The Business of Reflection: Hawthorne in His Notebooks, co-edited with Robert Milder,
Ohio State University Press, 2009. Reviewed in Nineteenth-Century Literature, NBOL-19.
Emerson’s Ghosts: Literature, Politics, and the Making of Americanists, Oxford
University Press, 2007; paperback, 2010. Reviewed in New England Quarterly, Studies in the Novel.
Essays and Book Chapters
“The Poetics of Civil War Sacrifice,” Sacrifice and War Literature, ed. Alex Houen and Jan-Melissa Shramm, Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017.
“The ‘American Renaissance’ After the Civil War,” Cambridge History of American Civil War Literature, ed. Coleman Hutchison, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2015.
“Critics: 1945-2012,” in Emerson in Context, ed. Wesley T. Mott, Cambridge University Press, December 2013.
“Hawthorne and War,” New England Quarterly, December 2007.
“Politics, Aesthetics, Homosexuality: F. O. Matthiessen and the Tragedy of the American Scholar,” June 2007, American Literature.
“Errand into the Wilderness: Perry Miller as American Scholar,” American Literary History 18 (Spring 2006), pp.102-128.
“Teaching Don DeLillo’s White Noise,” in MLA’s Approaches to Teaching Don DeLillo White Noise, ed. by Tim Engles and John N. Duvall (New York: MLA, 2006), pp 19-26.
“Emerson in the Gilded Age,” ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, 45:2 (1999), pp. 97-129.
“Theaters of the American Revolution: The Valley Forge Cato and the Meschianza in Their Transcultural Contexts,” Early American Literature, 34:2 (1999), pp.126-46.
Awards & Honors —
2014-2015 Guggenheim Fellow
2014 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend
2011 Christian Gauss Book Award, Phi Beta Kappa
2007-08 Research Fellow, NEH.
1999 Richard Beale Davis Award for Best Article Published by Early American Literature (presented by the MLA Division of American Literature before 1800).
Selected Public Humanities
“Thoreau’s Debt to Darwin,” Nature 15 June 2017 (546), pp. 349-50.
“Rage Against the Machine,” Wall Street Journal, 28 June 2017.
“Thoreau at 200,” Wall Street Journal, 14 June 2017.
“American Philosophy Can Change Your Life,” Wall Street Journal, 8 October 2016.
“The Lesson of the Masters,” Wall Street Journal, 25 March 2016.
“Custer Agonistes,” Wall Street Journal, 22 November 2015.
“When Billy and Johnny Got Back,” Wall Street Journal, 10 April 2015.
“Nevermore Into the Breach,” Wall Street Journal, 26, December 2014.
“Life During Wartime,” lead book review, Wall Street Journal, 26 April 2014.
“Randall Fuller: Five Best Books Inspired by the Civil War,” Wall Street Journal, 8 March 2014.
“Reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Humanities, March/April 2013, pp. 13-18
“The Image of a Writer,” Humanities, November/December 2012, pp. 14-18.
“Paralysis in Athens,” New York Times, A27, June 6, 2012.
“We Bled in the Corn,” Disunion column, New York Times, August 10, 2011.
“We Shall See What Stuff You Are Made,” Disunion column, New York Times, June 6, 2011.
“Daybreak Gray and Dim,” Humanities, January/February 2011, pp. 14-21.