Associate Professor of English
My goal as a teacher is to help my students to flourish. I’m there to create a space in which our intellectual pursuits together are real—and not, as the saying goes, only a test. I want my students’ work to be motivated by the discovery of an interest or even a passion, just as my own scholarly work is. When I’m not teaching, I’m researching nineteenth-century American literature and culture, as in the book I wrote about mesmerism, an early form of hypnosis. Or, I’m thinking about the nature of our lives as aesthetically attuned human beings, as in my column “On Not Knowing” at 3 Quarks Daily. It has been an honor to receive the Cory Family Teaching Prize and the Mead Honored Faculty Award for teaching at UVa. Guiding students to an experience of the intrinsic goods that motivate scholarship is a possibility to which I remain ever alert. I’m drawn to the engagements because they let us articulate together the principles that structure the collective work that happens at this university.