I am a Professor of English and the Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (MEMSI) at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Born in Cambridge, MA and educated at the University of Rochester (where I studied English, creative writing and classics) and Harvard University (PhD in English), I've taught at GW since 1994.
My research examines inhuman phenomena that are paradoxically alien and absolutely intimate to the human. Among the longest abiding of the topics I've explored is what monsters reveal about the cultures that dream them. This work has been the most influential of anything I've done, leading to a stint as an expert witness on a copyright lawsight involving the Pixar film Monsters Inc., a part in a History Channel documentary on dragons, and a consultant gig for a children's book on big monsters (as well as several books, essays, and conference keynotes). I've also worked on the multilingual literatures of the British archipelago and how they contest an easy narrative of English triumph; how postcolonial studies, queer theory, postmodernism and posthumanism might help us to better understand the texts and cultures of the Middle Ages (and might be transformed by that encounter); the limits and the creativity of our taxonomic impulses; the complexities of time when thought outside of progress narratives; vibrant materialism, object-oriented ontology, and other methods for discerning the complicated lives of what is supposed to be inanimate; and ecological theory.
"Stories of Stone," the working title of my current project, is funded by fellowships from the ACLS and the Guggenheim Foundation, and investigates the liveliness of our most seemingly inert substance. Research for this book has brought me around the world: Salisbury Plain, London, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Victoria (Australia), Bordeaux, and southwest Iceland. This project marks an ecological deepening in my research and a turn towards thinking more rigorously (and creatively) about the inhuman, especially through ecotheory. With Lowell Duckert I edited a special issue of a special issue of the journal postmedieval on ecomaterialism that makes use of what he and I are calling "elemental ecocriticism." We are working together on an edited collection with more on this topic. I also have a collection of essays forthcoming this autumn for the University of Minnesota Press on Prismatic Ecology: Ecotheory Beyond Green, and a volume published for Oliphaunt Books in 2012 called Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects (released by punctum books as an open access work and available as a free download).
I serve on the editorial board of punctum books and postmedieval. A selection of my books and other publications may be accessed through this website. I founded the group blog In the Middle, where along with Eileen Joy, Karl Steel, Jonathan Hsy and Mary Kate Hurley I am an active blogger. Much of my work in progress appears there. I am also active on Twitter.
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