I am an Associate Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans, a liberal arts college. I specialize in nineteenth-century British fiction, poetry and critical prose. My research combines close reading at the level of the sentence with digital searches that trace patterns across large bodies of work. I believe that digital tools transform the way we read texts because they transform the way we see them: my understanding of the intersection of ethics and style was revolutionized by the relatively simple tools of Microsoft Excel and regular expression searches for patterns in words and punctuation. My first book, Reductive Reading: A Syntax of Victorian Moralizing, has just been published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Reductive Reading is a study of deliberately reductive reading practices from nineteenth-century moralism to distant reading in the present that yield surprising--and surprisingly subtle--results. It also practices reductive reading through close analysis of simple patterns in sentence structure across texts by George Eliot, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I argue that nineteenth-century fiction teaches not only through the examples of conduct offered by its characters or the wise words delivered by its narrators, but by inculcating structures of judgment encoded in its syntax.
Before I joined the Stanford Litlab, I was a member of Beyond Search: Literary Studies and the Digital Library, a Stanford Humanities Center workshop. I have co-authored several pamphlets of the Stanford Literary Lab, since republished in Canon/Archive (n+1 books, 2017). My article, “George Eliot’s Discerning Syntax,” came out in ELH in Winter 2014, and an article on the concept of fictionality in Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë. was part of a special issue of Genre on Narrative Against Data in Winter 2017. My essay, "Other People’s Data: Humanities Edition," appeared in the Journal of Cultural Analytics in December 2016. Most recently, I contributed an entry on "Literature" to the special issue of Victorian Literature and Culture on "Keywords."
I am also affiliated with the Section on the Sociology of Literature at Uppsala University.