I am a Lecturer in the History & Literature Program at Harvard University and a scholar of early American literature and science. I am writing a book about the powerful challenge abolitionists made to the scientific norms of their day.

My book 

Ground Plans: Abolition and the Philosophy of Nature tells the story of the campaign by abolitionists to take down the scientific theories of race and nature that underpinned many commonplace arguments for slavery.  It brings into focus a cohort of abolitionists who were engaged in a tense struggle with practitioners of the rising disciplines of biology and ethnology.  It shows that, motivated by antislavery politics, these abolitionists not only called into question the prevailing idea that race (and the racial order of slavery) was an unchangeable product of nature, but they set forth new and very different ideas of how nature worked.

As a teacher

At Harvard, I teach students in all areas of American literature and history.  My tutorials have covered everything from colonial environmental literature to mid-twentieth century black radicalism.  Students in my courses examine literary sources in their historical context, and they read historical sources for their literary qualities.  Before joining Hist & Lit at Harvard, I taught American literature as a Graduate Instructor at Duke, Rowan University, and Emerson College.  I am also an experienced teacher of Composition.

When I'm not on campus

You can usually find me walking my beagle up and down the hills of Somerville, coaxing my garden to grow, or debating literary minutiae with friends.


Ph.D. in English, Duke University (2015)
M.A. in English, Penn State (2009)
B.A. in English, Cornell University (2006), Phi Beta Kappa