Trained as a historian, I work at the intersection of history, literature, and visual culture in the interdisciplinary field of Victorian Studies.
My first book, Grand Designs: Labor, Empire, and the Museum in Victorian Culture, chronicled institutional and social efforts to improve public taste in mid-nineteenth-century Britain. I am now completing my second monograph, The Reason Why: The Crimean War and its Afterlife. It has been a pleasure to immerse myself in military archives and in the new military studies while working on this book, which spotlights the enduring and surprising legacies of a very Victorian war. The Crimean War is well known for contributing such mainstays as The Charge of the Light Brigade and Florence Nightingale to Britain’s Island Story. In The Reason Why, I argue that the War shaped British society far more deeply and thoroughly than we have previously imagined. The customs that it inspired, the traditions that it augured, and the personalities that it featured have had a persistent presence in British cultural and social formation. Future projects – perhaps on the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864 or on John Groom’s Association for Disabled People – will sustain my commitments to performing fine-grained archival research, on the one hand, and to demonstrating the Victorian connections to the present, on the other.
My essays and articles appear in several edited volumes, as well as in such journals as 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, Historical Reflections, the Journal of British Studies, Labor, and Victorian Studies.
As in my research, I am devoted in my pedagogical labors and in my professional life to finding new ways of understanding the nineteenth-century, whether for academic audiences, for university students, or for the general public. I am deeply committed to sustaining dialogue across disciplinary boundaries, particularly those between history and literature. Currently, I serve as the director of Indiana University’s Victorian Studies Program and as a co-editor of Victorian Studies. I am a former associate editor of the American Historical Review.