My highest priority as a teacher is to strike a balance between my students’ perspectives on the texts I assign and the critical conversations surrounding those texts. My classroom strategies and assignments cultivate a space in which students can genuinely react to a text if it delights, confounds, or offends. I strike this balance by engaging students—from freshmen in a writing seminar and sophomores in a survey course to advanced English majors—as collaborators in the exploration of course texts.
Broadly speaking, my research focuses on book and theater history of the nineteenth century, the period just before/as technological innovations made possible the moving images and recorded sound we often take for granted today. I contrast the experiences of nineteenth-century readers and spectators with our own to encourage my students to think more critically about the ways we encounter culture.
I believe students can and should pursue projects that contribute to academic disciplines. I have worked with my students on practice-based research into the history of shipboard theatricals through a production of a nineteenth-century farce aboard US Brig Niagara and the performance of a collaboratively written rehearsal play aboard USS Constitution. I am especially energized by the digital humanities, an area of research that encourages projects that make student contributions to humanistic inquiry more feasible and legible. With students at the University of New Haven, I will be developing a scholarly digital edition of The Young Idea: A Naval Journal Edited on Board the H.M.S. Chesapeake in 1857, 1858 & 1859. The Young Idea was an illustrated weekly newspaper edited by A.D. McArthur (a clerk aboard the Chesapeake), circulated in manuscript at sea, and published by facsimile in London in 1867.