I teach courses in nineteenth-century U.S. literature and culture in the English department at Penn State University, where I am an associate professor. I served as the Associate Director of the Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities from January 2012-June 2013; previously, I was the Director of the Center for American Literary Studies (2007-2010). I am a founder of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, and will serve as C19 Vice President in 2014-2016 and President in 2016-2018.
My scholarship focuses on print culture, oceanic studies, book history, and Herman Melville. My first book, The View from the Mast-Head: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives (UNC Press, 2008), received the John Gardner Maritime Research Award. My critical edition of Horrors of Slavery, William Ray’s 1808 Barbary captivity narrative, appeared from Rutgers in 2008.
My work has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (most recently, a 2014-2015 NEH Fellowship), the Mellon Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Huntington Library, the John Carter Brown Library, the Bibliographical Society of America, the Newberry Library, the National Humanities Center, and the American Antiquarian Society, in which I was elected to membership in 2013. In July, 2014 I participated in the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last surviving wooden whaleship.
In my current book project, “The Ends of the Earth: Oceanic Studies and the Print Culture of Arctic and Antarctic Exploration,” I examine the unexpected role played in polar expeditions by private publishing and what we might call “extreme printing.”