Research and Scholarship

Broadly, my research focuses on the relationship between nineteenth-century visual culture and changing ideas about selfhood, consciousness, and inner life. Specifically, I'm interested in: portraiture, c19 somatic psychologies, daguerreotypes & X rays, early Black writers & visual theory, and Henry James.


In Progress:

  • The Portrait's Subject: Inventing Inner Life in Nineteenth-Century America: book manuscript exploring how new forms of visual representation changed how people understood their experiences of inner life. A pre-history of the selfie.

  • “Introduction” to new Penguin Classics edition of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.

  • "The Visual Rhetorics of Selfhood in Early Black Narrative and Art": an essay on early c19 Black portraitist Joshua Johnson (see left; he's amazing).

  • "What Psychology Looks Like": an essay on Thomas Eakins and the centrality of race and the body to the development of the discipline of psychology at the end of the nineteenth century.

  • "Olive Chancellor's Strenuous Parlor": the very beginnings of a new project on smallness, irrelevance, and feminine affect.


Published Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • “‘Making Good Use of Our Eyes’: Nineteenth-Century African Americans Write Visual Culture.”MELUS: Multiethnic Literature of the United States 39.2 (Summer 2014): 1-24.

  • “Isabel Archer’s Body.” The Henry James Review 31.3 (Fall 2010): 271-280.

  • “Fugitive Obscura: Runaway Slave Portraiture and Early Photographic Technology.” American Literature 81.1 (March 2009): 93-126.

  • “‘The Inner Brand’: Emily Dickinson, Portraiture, and the Narrative of Liberal Interiority.” The Emily Dickinson Journal 14.2 (Fall 2005): 48-59. Republished in Critical Insights: Emily Dickinson. J. Brooks Bouson, ed. (Pasadena: Salem Press), 2012.


Published Essays, Reviews, and Chapters

  • "'So Difficult to Instruct': Re-envisioning Abraham and Tad Lincoln." Common-Place 13.4 (Summer 2013). Multimedia essay.

  • Review essay: “Seeing Black.” American Quarterly 65.4 (December 2013): 927 936. Books reviewed: Bridget R. Cooks, Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum; Leigh Raiford, Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle; Maurice Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith, Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity; Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer, Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery.

  • "Psychology.” Henry James in Context. David McWhirter, ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2010):270-280. Invited book chapter.