About Me

I am a PhD candidate in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I study American literature and culture of the long nineteenth century (roughly 1830-1914). My research focuses on fiction and non-fiction in relation to science, pseudoscience, critical theory, and race. More broadly, I’m interested in genre fiction (especially horror, science fiction, and weird fiction), intellectual history, and the history of science.

My dissertation centers on literature and discourses of crowd psychology at the turn of the century. Considering novels, short stories, essays, and scientific writing, I argue that American writers between the end of Reconstruction and the start of WWI found in the complicated notion of the crowd a means to justify as well as to resist racial inequality. Whether claimed as the embodiment of democracy itself or shamed as a primitive resurgence, the crowd was for both white and black constituencies a pliable, powerful instrument. This project has been supported by several fellowships from my institution, UNC-Chapel Hill, and you can read more about it on my “Current Research” page.

Depiction of mob lynching of 11 Italian-Americans (1891)

My academic writing has been published in the following peer-reviewed journals: 

  • Mississippi Quarterly: The Journal of Southern Cultures — on James Dickey’s novel Deliverance and John Boorman’s film adaptation in relation to concept of the “post-South.”
  • Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and the Artson the intellectual history of the term “homeostasis” as it helps us rethink the history of ecology, the field of eco-criticism, and strands of theoretical “new materialism.”

Additional writing, including essays, reviews, and interviews, appears with The Millions, PopMatters, boundary2 online, Chicago Review of Books, symploke, Gulf Coast, Full Stop, and The Carolina Quarterly. 

For full-text links to all the above, see my writing page.

As a graduate instructor, I regularly teach courses in literature, film, and writing & composition. I’ve been fortunate to receive three teaching awards for this work, including the Tanner Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor available to graduate instructors at my institution, UNC-Chapel Hill.

For more information on my work as an instructor, see my teaching page.

Additionally, I have ample experience working as an editor.

As an undergraduate at Houghton College (Houghton, NY), I was the editor of the Lanthorn, the campus literary magazine.

More recently, at UNC-Chapel Hill, I served several years as the Book Reviews editor for The Carolina Quarterly, a long-standing literary magazine.

Currently, I am an editorial assistant for American Literature, an academic journal published by Duke University Press.

I live in Carrboro, NC with my wife and our dog, who is lazy but delightful.

Contact Ben