I teach and write about democracy and race in American literature and culture, concerns that I consider inextricable from my past and present experiences in public service. Currently, I am a civilian assistant professor of English at the United States Air Force Academy. I am also the director of the Academy’s core literature course; in this role, I oversee matters of curriculum, assessment, and instructor development for a class taken annually by nearly one thousand students. My scholarly and pedagogical interests were formed through my work as a teacher for and later director of Summerbridge Pittsburgh, a nonprofit program dedicated to achieving equality in education. I continue this social engagement as co-founder of the Democratic Dialogue Project, a Mellon grant-funded exchange between Air Force Academy and Colorado College students that seeks to bridge the military-civilian divide.
I am the author of Untimely Democracy: The Politics of Progress after Slavery (Oxford University Press, 2017). Reading the postbellum writings of American authors and activists as political theory in narrative form, the book recovers one of the bleakest periods in the nation’s racial history as a vibrant site for expanding our sense of what democracy can make possible. Beyond this study, I have published articles and essays on the humanities, citizenship, teaching and learning, American and African American literature, and film in such journals as Callaloo, African American Review, J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, and Pedagogy. I am now at the early stages of two book projects: a cultural history of revenge in the Reconstruction period, and a comparative study of the lives and works of William Faulkner and W. E. B. Du Bois in the long Civil Rights era. For more on my research, click here.
As a teacher, I urge my students to consider the ways the questions we study illuminate the problems confronting our world. I have taught a range of courses at all levels of the curriculum, from introductions to literary study and first-year composition, to surveys of American literature, to interdisciplinary seminars on topics such as democracy and social justice, the afterlife of racial slavery, and marriage as social theory. Across more than eight years of teaching, I have been recognized for my work in the classroom on multiple occasions, receiving the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award (2008) and the Teaching Excellence Award (2010) while a graduate student instructor at Northwestern. At the Air Force Academy, I received the Outstanding Instructor Award (2013) for my work in the introductory literature course for sophomore cadets. In 2014, I was named Outstanding Academy Educator and was nominated for Colorado Professor the Year. For my philosophy of teaching, click here. Information about past, present, and future courses is here.
I received my BA in English and Spanish from the University of Notre Dame and my MA and PhD in English from Northwestern University, where I was awarded the Jean H. Hagstrum Prize for Best Dissertation in 2012. My CV is available here.
Banner Image: Detail, W. E. B. Du Bois, “A. D. 2150” (written c. 1924, revised 1950), W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.