I am a sixth-year doctoral student in the Harvard University Department of English, where I focus on American literature in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My dissertation, "The Age of Improvement: Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Law, and the Market Revolution," examines how 19th century American authors responded to what historians have labeled the “market revolution,” in which rapid infrastructural development replaced local economies with an integrated national market under the sway of an increasingly powerful federal government. I analyze how the era's prevalent faith in material progress is at once ironized and reinforced by classic literature as it takes up a variety of political and economic themes, including the difficulty of achieving economic and cultural independence from the old world; the balance of local and national power and identity; the rise of the modern corporation and the legal fiction of corporate personhood; and sectional divisions over slavery, ironically widened by commercial and technological advances meant to bring the North and South closer. To corroborate my analysis, I close-read canonical literary texts alongside legal, political, and economic primary sources such as commercial magazines, advertisements, political speeches and pamphlets, legal and economic treatises, and judicial opinions.
My research has generously been supported by a GSAS Merit Term-Time Fellowship and by a CAPS (Center for American Political Studies) Dissertation Research Fellowship on the Study of the American Republic. My writing has appeared or will be appearing in American Literary Realism; Law, Culture and the Humanities; the Los Angeles Review of Books; Modern Fiction Studies; The New England Quarterly; the New Rambler Review of Books; PMLA; and the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal. I previously earned a B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Dartmouth College, where I was valedictorian of the Class of 2009 (see my commencement speech here), and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. I worked as a law clerk at the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and practiced appellate and corporate litigation in Boston before returning to academia.