B.A., Yale University
Ph.D., Duke University
I was born in New York City, majored in English at Yale as an undergrad, and completed my doctorate in English at Duke University. I have taught at Haverford since 1997; I have also been a visiting professor in the graduate program in Performance Studies at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. I was co-editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies from 2010-2013 and continue to serve on their editorial board; I am also a member of the Social Text editorial collective. My background is in 19th-century American literary and cultural studies, but in recent years most of my research has centered on sound, media, and popular music. I have abiding interests in queer theory, critical race theory, performance theory, historicisms new and old, sound studies, and cultural studies.
I published Troubling Minds: The Cultural Politics of Genius in the US, 1840-1890 (Minneapolis: U of Minn Press) in 2006. The book examines the ways that several crucial authors and intellectuals (including Emerson, Douglass, Jenny Lind, William Wells Brown, Louisa May Alcott, and Henry James) theorized, represented, and performed the figure of genius during these embattled and transformative decades in U. S. history
More recently my interests have turned toward sound, media, and popular music in their cultural and political contexts. I have edited the March, 2010 issue of Social Text (102), a special edition on "The Politics of Recorded Sound." The volume contains my introduction and an essay on rumored recordings of lynchings of African Americans from the 1890s, the first decade of the phonograph's commercial viability. I am working on a project examining Andy Warhol's relationship to sound and writing; a piece of this will be published in the Fall 2014 issue of Criticism. My main focus at present is a book about Woody Guthrie, an archival project examining his later years, his chronic illness (Huntington's Disease), and his emergent sense of a politics of the body, titled Woody Guthrie and the Intimate Life of the Left; I see Guthrie as a figure through which to retell the history of the transition between the Old Left and New.