About Me

I’m a PhD candidate in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a 2019-2020 Maynard Adams Fellow for the Public Humanities. I study American literature of the long nineteenth century (circa 1830-1914). My research focuses on literary culture and history in relation to race, critical theory, and the social and human sciences.

My dissertation centers on literature and “crowd psychology,” or crowd theory, at the turn of the century. Considering novels, short stories, essays, and scientific discourse, 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 and violence. 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 ongoing project has been supported by several fellowships, and you can read more about it on my current research page.

Adjunct to my primary dissertation research, I maintain interests in the history of science, ecocriticism, intellectual history, adaptation studies, film studies, and genre fiction (especially horror, science fiction, and weird fiction). These and others research areas are addressed throughout my published work.

Academic writing appears with 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 the political purchase of “new materialism.”

Additional writing, including essays, reviews, and interviews, appears with: ASAP/J; boundary2o; The Carolina Quarterly; Chicago Review of Books; Full Stop; Gulf Coast; The Millions; Pedagogy and American Literary Study (PALS); PopMatters; symploke. For full-text links to all the above, see my writing page.

As a graduate instructor, I regularly teach undergraduate courses in literature, film, and writing & composition. In total I’ve been the instructor of record for 7 undergraduate courses. I’ve also served as a Teaching Assistant, a Research Consultant, and a tutor in various capacities. Over the course of my six years at UNC, I’ve been fortunate to receive three teaching awards for this work, including the Tanner Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest recognition available to graduate instructors at UNC-Chapel Hill.

In addition to my research and teaching, I’ve served in several editorial positions. Currently, I’m an editorial assistant for American Literature, published out of Duke University Press. Before that I spent several years as Book Reviews editor for The Carolina Quarterly (out of UNC). And while an undergraduate, I was the editor-in-chief of my college’s literary magazine, The Lanthorn, out of Houghton College (Houghton, NY).  

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

Contact Ben