Homosociality and the Aesthetic in James’s Roderick Hudson
My research ranges from the late 19th century to the present day and covers both sides of the Atlantic: I am passionate about Victorian literature, 20th century cultural history, and contemporary writing. My writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Victorian Literature and Culture, Nineteenth Century Literature, African American Review, Journal of American Studies and elsewhere. Until recently, I was Deputy Director of the Rothermere American Institute, where I led academic programming and contributed to the Institute's management. During the 2017-2018 academic year, I will be Eakin Visting Fellow at McGill University where I will be researching contemporary Canadian cosmopolitanism.
I am writing a biography of Oscar Wilde for Oxford University Press. Based on new evidence, the book tells the story of a local Irish eccentric called Oscar who became a global cultural icon called Wilde. Making Oscar Wilde paints a vivid cultural history of sensation-hungry journalism and popular entertainment alongside racial controversies, sex scandals, and the rising power of Irish nationalism.
My first book, Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture, shows how two of the 19th century's foremost authors profoundly influenced each other and shaped the period's literary and visual culture. The book explores why being 'aesthetic' mattered so much to Victorians on both sides of the sea. It also explains how Aestheticism responded to anxieties about culture, originality, sexuality and nationality.
With Laura Marcus and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, I co-edited Late Victorian Into Modern, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Modernist Studies Association Book Prize. Featuring new essays by 40 leading scholars, the book reveals the cultural continuties and ruptures that occurred between the end of the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th. My chapter examines why cosmopolitanism mattered to John Ruskin, Walter Pater and Joris-Karl Huysmans in the Victorian era, and why it still felt vital to E. M. Forster on the eve of World War 1.
Alan Hollinghurst: Writing Under the Influence (co-edited with Denis Flannery) developed from my longstanding interest in gay history and visual culture. This is the first collection to consider the majority of Hollinghurst's Booker Prize-winning works -- from his poetry and novels, to his criticism and French translation.
Thanks to Yale University's Donald C. Gallup Fellowship in American Literature, I recently completed a major reassessment of two young Harlem Renaissance writers who infused African-American literature with European decadent culture. I presented my findings on Bruce Nugent and Wallace Thurman's daring, precocious work in a British Library keynote lecture (soon to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press).
- 'A Decadent Dream Deferred: the Harlem Renaissance's Queer Modernity' Decadence in the Age of Modernism. Eds. Kate Hext and Alex Murray (Johns Hopkins University Press, in press).
- 'Reading Cosmopolitanism, Aestheticism and Decadence.' Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to Literature: Late Victorian into Modern. Eds. Laura Marcus, Michèle Mendelssohn and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (Oxford UP, 2016).
- 'Poetry, Parody, Porn and Prose' Alan Hollinghurst: Writing under the Influence. Eds. Michèle Mendelssohn and Denis Flannery (Manchester UP, 2016).
- 'Rewriting the Genealogy of Minstrelsy for Modernity: "Cry and Sing, Walk and Rage, Scream and Dance"' African American Review (Spring 2015)
- 'Oscar Wilde, Henry James and the Fate of Aestheticism.' Oscar Wilde in Context. Eds. Kerry Powell and Peter Raby (Cambridge UP, 2014)
- 'Beautiful Souls Mixed up with Hooked Noses: Art, Degeneration and Anti-Semitism in Trilby and The Master.' Victorian Literature and Culture 40.1 (March 2012): 179-197.
- 'Notes on Oscar Wilde's Transatlantic Gender Politics.' Journal of American Studies 46.1 (February 2012):1-15.
- 'Aestheticism and Decadence.' Henry James in Context. Ed. David McWhirter (Cambridge UP, 2010): 93-104.
- 'I'm not a bit expensive': Henry James and the Sexualization of the Victorian Girl.' The Nineteenth Century Child and Consumer Culture. Ed. Dennis Denisoff (Ashgate, 2008)
- 2015-2017: Rothermere American Institute Deputy Director
- 2015-2017: Rothermere American Institute Academic Committee Chair
- 2012-2017: American Literature Research Seminar Co-convenor
- 2014-2016: MSt in English 1830-1914 Convenor
- 2011-2013: English Faculty Victorian Period Convenor
- 2012 Alain Locke in the 21st Century Symposium Co-organiser
I review for journals and advise on book proposals for several publishers.
Teaching and Doctoral Supervision
I welcome applications from new doctoral students, particularly those interested in working with archives or researching transatlantic cultural histories.
The Oxford papers I have taught include:
- Literature in English 1830-1910 (Prelims Paper 3)
- Literature in English 1910-Present Day (Prelims Paper 4)
- The Fin de siecle (FHS Paper 6)
- MSt 1830-1914: Core Course in Contexts & Approaches (A course)
- MSt Oscar Wilde and archival materials (B course)
- MSt Lessons of the Master: Henry James and his Literary Legacies (C course)
Born and raised in Montréal, Canada, I grew up speaking French and English. I studied Liberal Arts and English Literature at Concordia University, where I fell in love with all things 19th & 20th century. During the summers, I worked on a windswept island in Germany's North Sea. After graduation, a fellowship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst took me back to Germany to study at the University of Heidelberg. From there, I went to Cambridge University on a Commonwealth scholarship and earned an MPhil (First) in American Literature and a PhD in English Literature. In 2001, I went to Harvard University as a Fulbright Scholar.
Before joining Oxford’s English Faculty in 2009, I taught at Edinburgh University, Boston University, Harvard, Cambridge, and Heidelberg.