I received my BA in English from Yale University in 1993 and my PhD in English from Harvard University in 2001. After teaching at Columbia University for nine years, I returned to Harvard in 2010. I am on the faculty of the English department, and for four years I chaired the program in History and Literature.
My scholarship focuses on nineteenth-century literature and history, with a particular attention to the role that teachers and writers play in times of social change. My first book,The Novel of Purpose: Literature and Social Reform in the Anglo-American World, was awarded the Rudikoff Prize in Victorian studies. Since then, I've continued to publish scholarly articles, but I also now write in more public venues, such as the London Review of Books, Public Books, and n+1. I'm currently finishing a work of narrative non-fiction, to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, about the Union occupation of the South Carolina sea islands during the Civil War. To learn more about that project or about my scholarship and writing more generally, click here.
My teaching ranges widely, from Humanities 10 to the Gen Ed course I co-teach on the Civil War, but I find myself returning, again and again, to the novel. I teach courses on the 19th century novel, on the 21st century novel, on the historical novel, on the Bildungsroman. To learn more about my courses or about my teaching and advising more generally, click here.