About Me

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

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

  • Mississippi Quarterly: on James Dickey’s novel Deliverance and John Boorman’s film adaptation in relation to concept of the “post-South.”
  • Configurations: on 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.”

Other writing, including essays and reviews, appears with The Millions, PopMatters, boundary2 online, symploke, Gulf Coast, Full Stop, and The Carolina Quarterly. (See my writing page for readable links.)

I regularly teach courses in literature, film, and writing and composition, and I am the recipient of three teaching awards, including the Tanner Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor available to graduate instructors at my institution, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Additionally, 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