Cohort 2007–2008. I study literature of the long eighteenth century, with an interest in poetry and poetics more broadly. I arrived in Princeton in 2007, after a year at Brown University as a visiting student and three years as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, UK. I defended in 2014, when I began my current position as Assistant Professor of English at Amherst College.
I wrote my dissertation, The Poetry of Loneliness: From Romance to Romanticism, with guidance from Susan Stewart, Esther Schor and Sophie Gee, three scholars whose expansive thinking crosses conventional boundaries between time periods, fields, disciplines and genre. I’ve always been grateful for the freedom I was given, in turn, to let my research questions guide the scope of my project, and this is something I appreciate even more deeply in retrospect. I could not have come to the arguments I made about late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century poetry in my book, Communities of Solitude: The Invention of Loneliness in British Poetry, without first grappling with seventeenth-century literature in so much detail (and I thank Nigel Smith and Jeff Dolven for their help with this, too). Princeton gave me the time and support necessary to take a long view.
Graduate seminars were a space where I first learned what collaborative thinking could make possible, after an undergraduate experience oriented around lectures and individual supervisions. I often think of the classes I took at Princeton as models for the kind of learning environment I want to create when I teach classes like Reading Poetry, Early Women Writers, and Making Genre in the Eighteenth Century at Amherst. I was very fortunate to begin to learn about teaching in a pedagogy seminar with Diana Fuss, and to co-teach a class on Literature and Environment (a version of which I still teach now) alongside Bill Gleason, as part of the Teagle mentorship program. Two years as a Quin Morton Fellow at the Princeton Writing Center, under the directorship of Amanda Irwin Wilkins, taught me methods for mentoring students that I still rely on now.
I learned how to organize events because of the opportunity the English department gave graduate students to host colloquiums: from there, it didn’t feel like very much of a leap become a co-organizer of the Five College Global Cultures of the Nineteenth Century Colloquium in our local consortium, or to co-organize a public conference on Frankenstein.
Partly led by my learning in the Five College Colloquium, I’ve recently begun to work on the topic of slavery in the Romantic period, in an article about the ethics of abolition poetry, and an edited collection on teaching abolition texts; Romantic Anti-Slavery Literature in the Era of Black Lives Matter: Pedagogies and Contexts. I’m pleased that there is an essay by Ivan Ortiz, a member of my cohort, in the collection. This is a good example of the ongoing collaboration that we all began in class over a decade ago. When I stop to count, I realize I’ve been in touch with five people from Princeton already this week, and it’s only Tuesday. Even if the time when we were all gathered physically together has passed, the conversations continue, and hold the promise of future possibility.