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Bio

Recently, I received my PhD in English from Loyola University Chicago (Nineteenth Century Studies). I also hold a Master's Degree in English from LUC (Early Modern Drama) and a BA in English and History from the University of Georgia. I serve as an Associate Editor of the Charles Dickens Letters Project

​Areas of interest include Digital Humanities, Textual Studies, the English Novel, and Nineteenth-Century Race and Gender, Composition, and IEL.

 
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Publications

“Drafting Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte at the Circulating Library.” Victorian Popular Fictions Journal. Edited by Andrew King and Mariaconcetta Constantini. Spring 2022 (Forthcoming)
 

“An Overview of Digital Resources for the Study of Victorian Fiction.” Edited by Edward Guiliano. Dickens Studies Annual, vol. 53, no. 1, March 2022, pp. 80-87. DOI: 10.5325/dickstudannu.53.1.0070.

March 2022

Utilizing open-access, institutional, and subscription-only digital databases for research can advance studies in Victorian literature. Despite occasional issues with sample size, barriers to access, or bad OCR, these databases hold unprecedented quantities of nineteenth-century literature awaiting scrutiny, as indicated by research examples provided. Several long-standing or recent projects on the novel, literary culture, or race in the Victorian era are discussed in terms of their application for personal research and classroom instruction. Among these are the recently unveiled databases One More Voice and Undisciplining the Victorian Classroom, which bring non-European perspectives to the forefront of discourse in answer to the recent call to center and engage with marginalized nineteenth-century voices previously buried in archives due to racial difference. Primary sources, by offering new perspectives on life in the nineteenth century, can now enrich both scholarship and academic syllabi. Digital scans, if defined as free access or fair use, can be requisitioned for groundbreaking projects centered around literary writing, publication, and culture, or historical inquiry.

“‘Gazing at all the church and chapel going’: Social Views of Religious Nonconformity in Dickens’s Fiction.” Edited by Brenda A. Ayres and Sarah E. Maier. The Theological Dickens. Routledge, 2021, pp. 110-127. ISBN: 9780367742157.

2021

Before writing and publishing the serial of Hard Times, in January of that year, Charles Dickens visited Preston, Lancashire, a locale that inspired the fictional depiction of smoke-filled Coketown in his industrial novel. Despite Coketown’s proliferation of indistinguishable Nonconformist churches, its 18 denominations do not contain “laboring people.” Besides ringing their bells each Sunday, the only attempt Evangelicals make to encourage attendance is to try legally to enforce it through an Act of Parliament. Divided and inaccessible, churches teach infantilized moralism or engage in petty theological disputes while ignoring those in spiritual distress like Stephen Blackpool who must find God without them. As a social reformer and as a Christian, Dickens was troubled by Preston’s proliferating denominations and their low church attendance, a telling sign of their failures to connect with the poor. After Dickens returned to Preston in 1867, he alluded to its Nonconformist congregations in his last completed work, “George Silverman’s Explanation”. In what may be Dickens’ most anti-dissenting sketch, the impact of Preston’s judgmental theology coupled with the vindictive preaching of the corrupt brothers Hawkyard and Gimblet permanently scar an orphan who constantly represses his desires to avoid being “a worldly little devil.” This chapter will conclude that Dickens, faced with the large presence of the city’s Nonconformist churches and their apparent evangelical failures, stressed the spiritual importance of practicing Christian love in order to assist and convert the poor.

“What Charles Dickens Never Said: Verifying Internet ‘Quotes’ and Accessing the Works with Online Resources.” Dickens Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 3, September 2020, pp. 249-263. DOI: 10.1353/dqt.2020.0033.

September 2020

Digital information practices such as unregulated meme and post creation, uncited quotations, and frequent reposting across social media platforms all enable the rising Internet phenomenon of sharing misremembered or inaccurate "quotes" by famous authors. Charles Dickens is often misquoted or falsely identified as originator of a saying either deriving from a film adaptation, or that typifies his known opinions. Since these quotations are not fact-checked and generally cannot be flagged or taken down by other users, mistakes proliferate online. By not verifying them before use, instructors and authors risk including false or inaccurate quotations in their presentations and publications. Searching for a dubious "quote" in Internet archives, databases, and online tools can combat such errors by revealing whether it actually appears in published writing by Dickens or his biographers. Techniques are provided for navigating these digital searches successfully

“‘A Horrid Female Waterman’: The Contentious Legacy of Grace Darling in Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend.” Dickens and Women Re-observed. Edited by Edward Guiliano. Edward Everett Root Publishers Co. Ltd., 2020, pp. 267-287. ISBN: 978-1913087203. 

2020

On the night of September 7, 1838, the Forfarshire wrecked on the rocks off the Northumbrian coast near the lighthouse on Longstone, part of the Farne Islands, inspiring the lighthouse keeper’s daughter Grace Darling and her father William to launch a small boat and save the survivors despite the strong current and bad conditions. Rapidly, news of this daring rescue spread to London, the story of the obscure, but heroic rowing girl recounted in Victorian newspapers and periodicals before experiencing the first of many fictionalized adaptations for stage and novel. Writing for a public wild with enthusiasm for Grace’s courage and longing to honor her by gifts of money and even increased social status, many journalists and novelists attempted to assuage growing fears that the girl might take advantage of her celebrity by presenting her as meek, humble, and content with her place in society, while “biographies” of the girl soothed concerns that her physical exploit indicated masculine or inappropriate passions.  Despite Grace’s death in 1842, the debate raged on as to the merits and appropriateness of female rowing, with several affiliates of Charles Dickens investigating the boating rescue trope in their novels of the 1850s-1860s. Though Dickens only alludes to the legacy of Grace in 1865 with Our Mutual Friend, a novel which depicts a boatman’s daughter Lizzie Hexam rescuing the gentleman Eugene Wrayburn from certain death, his authorial intervention is decisive and clearly-articulated, allowing women as well as men the right to seek social mobility. The novel’s conclusion establishes such a rowing heroine’s moral right to achieve a higher-class status as the result of their publicly demonstrated physical adeptness, courage, and concern for citizens in peril. 

“The Devastating Impact of Lord Wharton’s Bible Charity in Wuthering Heights.” Edited by Deborah Logan. Victorians: A Journal of Culture and Literature, no. 134, December 2018, pp. 234-249. DOI: 10.1353/vct.2018.0021.

December 2018

Since 1695, the Lord Wharton Bible Charity has bestowed distinctive Bibles and two religious books to Yorkshire children able to recite certain Psalms and the catechism. Evidence for the Brontë siblings’ familiarity with the charity’s project includes their respective literary criticism of the misuse of rote Scriptural memorization and quoting and the presence of two Wharton Bibles owned by the Brontës in the Brontë Parsonage Museum Library. Descriptions of the charity’s project appear in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), representing the catalyst for Catherine and Heathcliff’s growing alienation and resistance to Christianity.

“Tweeting Tippins: Using Digital Media to Recreate Our Mutual Friend’s Serialization.” Dickens Quarterly, vol. 35, iss. 2, 2018, pp. 149-158. DOI: 10.1353/dqt.2018.0014.

2018

Recently, the University of Birkbeck’s digital serialization of Dickens’ late novel Our Mutual Friend (May 2014-Nov 2015) represented a modern “update” of the original reading experience. While simultaneously providing the original source text, the project innovatively brought immediacy and cultural relevancy to the characters’ original personalities and peculiarities through tweets containing a blend of textual references, anachronistic hashtags and wit, and historical fact. These tweets were then collected through the social network service Storify, narrated as a cohesive storyline, and emailed to participants. By exploring my own involvement in the project – tweeting as the ravishing temptress Lady Tippins and authoring September 2014’s blog post – I demonstrate how such a project incorporating and adapting various media platforms and apps can revitalize contemporary interest in Charles Dickens’ novels, promote interdisciplinary exchange, and even recapture part of the initial excitement and anticipation experienced by Dickens’ first readers.

“The Juvenile and Erudite: A Study of the Marginalia in Newberry Case Y 12.T219.” JMMLA, vol. 50, no. 2, Fall 2017, pp. 11-29. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44862248.

2017

Early Modern readers could utilize a printed book to promote literacy, practice penmanship, reinforce social standing, and, finally, as an aid for developing educational and moral learning. The marginalia done by two hands within Newberry Case Y12.T219, also known as the Duke of Roxburghe’s copy of All the Workes of John Taylor (1630), provides clues as to the identity of the marginalia-writers and demonstrates how multiple generations could engage with such a volume, Robert Ker by emotionally responding to its textual themes and using the object as a base for letter-writing, while his grandson William Drummond idly copied its illustrations and modified its text. Furthermore, I argue that the distinctive eighteenth-century Roxburghe rebinding increased its value well beyond that of the folio text itself, causing it to be prized by subsequent owners as a rare object signifying their own prestige, intellectualism, and distinguished connection to the literary world. Finally, I deduce this book’s subsequent genealogy after the Roxburghe sale. Based on my findings, I postulate one avenue through which Ohio hardware tycoon Henry Probasco located and acquired this book and possibly other works in his six thousand–volume collection now permanently housed in Chicago’s Newberry Library (est. 13 April 1892).

“Misogyny or Artistry?: Revisions to Two Conrad Heroines from Serial to First Edition.”
Conrad: Critical Insights. Edited by Jeremiah Garsha. Salem Press, 2016, pp. 69-83. ISBN: 
978-1-68217-114-1.

2016

In this paper I counter longstanding accusations regarding Joseph Conrad’s supposed literary misogyny and blatant sexism towards women by asserting that Conrad did not prioritize the development of his male characters to the detriment of his female characters. To support my claim, I will examine two later novels Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard (1904) and The Secret Agent (1907), that both demonstrate significant revisions adding depth and nuance to each heroine’s personality and appearance from the serial version to the novel’s publication. Extracts from Conrad’s letters and reviews of his work supplement textual evidence, establishing the fundamental importance he placed on revision and character description. Incorporating Gordon W. Thompson’s concept of “the possibility of transcendent truth” into my argument, I contend that women function in Conrad’s novels as embodied symbols of what should be, what cannot be, and therefore, of the vital thing that is impossible for the male characters to grasp. Consciously representative of nineteenth century gender realities, Conrad’s men and women inhabit separate and largely distinct spheres; their generally unsuccessful attempts to transgress these boundaries and achieve romantic closeness both provides the novel’s necessary dramatic conflict and reflects the author’s own belief that such potentially transformational human connections often fail due to gendered differences and unfair male prejudice. Responding to his own work as a reader of his own serial versions, a form of media that he considered to be aesthetically inferior to the novel, Conrad treated each novel edition as an artistic opportunity to submit a second, corrective draft that could better adjust the power dynamics between the male and female characters in accordance with his particular vision of what that relationship should accomplish. Accordingly, I argue that the revisions from the serialized versions to the first editions of the following two novels work to perfect a female character’s role in regards to how she either effects or fails to effect the male characters; such revisions respectively clarify the harm caused to a woman’s domestic happiness by male blindness in Nostromo and justify a woman’s mistaken belief in a man’s devotion to her in The Secret Agent.

“Politic Silence: Female Choruses in Lochhead’s Medea and Wertenbaker’s The Love of the Nightingale.” Edited by Graley Herren. Text & Presentation. McFarland, 2015, pp. 42-56. ISBN: 9781476624730.

2015

This essay explores reinventions of the Euripidean chorus in Liz Lochhead's Medea and Timberlake Wertenbaker's The Love of the Nightingale, an adaptation of the Philomele myth, which highlight gender issues still relevant to modern audiences by referencing the unchanging nature of female struggles for agency throughout history. These plays reference the universal female experience with male abuse and resultant powerlessness whenever Lochhead's chorus deviates from their lines in Euripides' original play, or Wertenbaker's chorus rebels against the cohesive, unified structure typical of the Greek female chorus in favor of individuality and resistance. Lochhead's exclusion of Medea's semi-divine nature from her adaptation introduces a new theme—that of instinctive maternity—which her chorus prioritizes over sexual love and betrayal. In contrast, Wertenbaker's chorus recognizes motherhood itself as perpetuating the cycle of violence against women. Male injustice provokes female violence in both plays, a social problem each chorus, biologically trapped and lacking social rights, vainly attempts to resolve.