I came to Princeton in 2005, several years out of college, having already had a career as an independent school teacher and administrator. I defended my dissertation in 2012, at which point I began my current position as an assistant professor in the English Department at New York University. I’m a scholar of African American and Black diasporic literature, with particular interests in poetry and poetics, environmental writing, and more recently the intellectual histories of Black studies, literary studies, and their intersection.
I entered the Ph.D. program in English at Princeton in 2005 and defended my dissertation, on Victorian fiction, in 2011 (advised by the wonderful Diana Fuss, Deborah Nord, Michael Wood, and Eduardo Cadava). In my sixth and final year in the program, I was a Five College dissertation completion fellowship at Amherst College (2010-2011). It was enormously helpful for me to receive a fellowship at that stage: being part of the English Department at Amherst College helped me to transition from feeling like a graduate student to feeling like a professor.
I completed my PhD in 2010 and took up a fellowship and lectureship at Trinity College, Cambridge. When I am asked about my experiences as a graduate student, and especially about the differences from the system in the UK, I usually focus on two aspects. The first is the opportunity that I was given to explore widely during the first two years of taught coursework. When I arrived at Princeton I was not yet sure that I wanted to focus on the early modern period, and the courses allowed me to clarify my interests while continuing to range broadly. I benefited tremendously from classes that afforded me sustained encounters with Shakespeare and Spenser, but I was also able to wander beyond the Renaissance, and beyond English – a seminar on Nietzsche, another on Hegel in New York via the consortium of local universities.
I arrived at Princeton in 2005. Having applied to Ph.D. programs as an undergraduate, I made the jump to graduate school with little sense of what awaited me, either as a graduate student or later as a faculty member. Luckily, Princeton was a place where I could learn ‘on the job’ while exploring all my weird ideas: What if John Cheever was a race theorist? How did the skyscraper shape literary form? How do you see and feel race as a material housed within an environment?
I finished my PhD in modernism two years ago, and now work in fundraising at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I manage both BAM’s Patron Program and its Young Producers program, which engages young, enthusiastic, high-level donors. My role is varied and takes me to all parts of the institution. I work closely with the various programming departments—main stage programming, cinema, education and community engagement, visual arts, and humanities—and meet artists and philanthropists regularly.
I received my PhD in 2015 from Princeton’s English Department, where my research focused on new forms of dialogue invented in the 20th century and used by writers and filmmakers to ignite social movements – including psychoanalysis and the civil rights movement. In the same year, I launched MK Impact, a consultancy that helps mission-driven organizations to achieve their social impact goals. I have worked with clients across several industries, from Wall Street to digital media. Most recently, I have helped to build the newly formed Impact section at HuffPost. I develop strategic initiatives and partnerships that enable HuffPost to take on long-term editorial coverage of key social and environmental issues.
I am an academic librarian at the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library, where I serve as subject specialist for English language and literature, and “functional” specialist in digital humanities. I use my Princeton graduate training every day in evaluating collections, teaching workshops, and pursuing scholarship. The pace and focus of life is different from an English professorship—patron needs set the agenda—but I really enjoy the service orientation of the profession.
I moved to the UK nearly four years ago to start a permanent post in American literature at the University of Manchester, and thankfully passed “probation” (the UK equivalent of tenure) last spring. Since arriving, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching several core first-year lecture courses, including “American Literature to 1900” and “Introduction to American Studies,” as well as a final year seminar, “Occupy Everything,” on radical memory in U.S. literature and culture from Occupy Wall Street to the Haitian Revolution.
I entered the PhD program in 2001 and defended my dissertation in the field of British Romanticism in 2007. From there I spent one year at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University, and then joined the Department of English at Fordham University, where I currently serve as Director of Graduate Studies. Given my current role, I’ve had occasion to reflect upon my own graduate training, and more than once I’ve tried to bring what I learned at Princeton about how to structure and run a good graduate program to my work at Fordham.
I was a typical incoming Ph.D. student at Princeton in at least one respect: after completing my B.A., I went straight into graduate school, completing a Master’s degree at the New School for Social Research before coming to Princeton. What was not so typical was that I’d dropped out of college fifteen years before, in 1995, after my freshman year at the University of Puget Sound, to learn about the world and become a writer.