I am intrigued by objects. The material history of objects forces us into the lives and networks of the past to understand how and why people valued specific things and ideas. The stories objects tell cut across disciplinary boundaries and invite us into how people distilled their ideas and beliefs into concrete forms. Maps, so often drawing on diverse fields and requiring many people to produce them, draw us into these historical networks of knowledge and production.
As a teacher and librarian, I love getting students to explore libraries and special collections as much as possible. I want students to come away from any visit to the library both with a sense of the range of research that they can do and also with a knowledge of the skills and librarians that could help them pursue that research. For an example of how I incorporate special collections into classroom activities, see my description of my teaching for American Literature and Culture to 1865.
I received my PhD in English from Harvard University. My research explored how US and British writers participated in debates about church and state in the nineteenth century. A chapter from that project was published in J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists.
Before graduate school, I taught high school Math and English in Mississippi and worked briefly as an apprentice cabinet maker in New York City. This has left me with an abiding love of high school math (and the history of math!) and a greater appreciation for the furniture in museum galleries.