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BIO

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Michigander living in New York State by way of Chicago, New Haven, Aix-en-Provence, Austin, and Baltimore. I think, teach, and write about literature and religion in early modernity. 

My first book, The Enthusiast, stems from an interest in the subject of prophecy and the way early modern culture was shaped by a simultaneous need to settle the question of which prophets/prophecies were true and a reluctant acknowledgment that this question could never finally be settled. This theological-political quandary gave birth to an affect, enthusiasm, and a character type, the Enthusiast, which remain conspicuously important to the self-understanding and self-definition of enlightened and post-enlightened folk (like, well, me -- and if you're reading this, probably you too). 

I am now at work on a related project focusing on the significance of prophetic characters and concepts for early modern ideas of race. This book will bring together older scholarship on the "great chain of being" and newer scholarship on the entrenchment of racial hierarchies in our academies, polities, economies, and psychologies. 

For fun I play music, have strong opinions about TV shows, and hang out with my family. I am a newly converted cat person. And even more newly a dad. 

Selected Publications

2023

The Enthusiast: Anatomy of the Fanatic in Seventeenth-Century British Culture (Cornell, 2023).

A literary history of a character type, the Enthusiast, which emerged to solve a very important problem in seventeenth-century British culture: how to distinguish between true and false prophets in the wake of the English Reformation and the collapse of the heresy courts. 

2021

"Theodora Wilkin's Wandering Soul: Spiritual Adaptation in an Anglo-Dutch Context," Church History and Religious Culture 101 (2-3): 357-75.

Sometime in the early eighteenth century, Theodora Wilkin translated into English and expanded upon an important Mennonite devotional work, Jan Philipsz Schabaelje’s Wandering Soul

2020

"Innocence after Experience: Herrick's 'Oberon's Palace' as Counter-Epithalamion," Studies in Philology 117.1: 129-50.

"Oberon's Palace," one of Robert Herrick's fairy poems, at once satirizes the debauched sexuality of the Fairy King and his court and celebrates the cultural power of poetic artifice.

2016

Enlivened Generalities: Truism in Mill and Dewey, New Literary History 47.4: 611-632.

The liberal tradition has been fascinated and troubled by the question of the value of truisms -- that is, old saws containing allegedly perennial nuggets of wisdom. This essay identifies two approaches to this problem (represented by Mill and Dewey) and suggests that it might usefully intersect with a refreshed concept of epiphanic experience. 

2015

Macabre Vitality: Texture and Resonance in The Duchess of MalfiRenaissance Drama 43.2: 193-216.

Webster's play is designed to melt -- or rot -- before our eyes as a way of dramatizing the dissolution of meaning in the court it depicts (and perhaps in the cultural context from which it emerges). 

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