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.


My book, forthcoming from the University of North Carolina Press in December 2019, tells a wide-ranging story about how images of human surfaces came to signal expressions of human depth during the nineteenth century. Combining visual theory, literary close reading, and archival research, The Portrait’s Subject examines portraiture's changing symbolic and aesthetic practices across the nineteenth century, from daguerreotype to X-ray.


Published Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • “The Visual Rhetorics of Selfhood in Early Black Narrative and Art." Forthcoming in African American Literature in Transition, ed. Jocelyn Moody. Cambridge University Press.

  • “‘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.