Research

I am currently completing my first book project, Making Liberalism New: American Intellectuals, Modern Literature, and the Rewriting of a Political Tradition, for Johns Hopkins University Press. This project tracks a mutually formative antagonism between modernist culture and liberal intellectuals in the United States from the 1930s into the 1960s. As it moves through major intellectual episodes in American liberal culture, Making Liberalism New shows how modernist form engaged enduring problems in liberal political theory and practice: corporate personhood, reproductive rights, “color-blind” law, social documentaries, tragic form, and political style. At the same time, it explains how “liberalism” transformed from a relatively unknown term into a keyword in American political life.

I am also completing several book chapters for edited collections, including an essay on Richard Wright’s contemporary reception for Richard Wright in Context (Cambridge UP), an essay on Partisan Review for The Routledge Companion to the Literary Magazine, and an essay entitled “Periodicals and Popular Culture: Science Fiction Pulps,” for The State of Magazine Studies. This last project builds on my ongoing relationship with the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies in Mainz, Germany, where I served as a 2019 Fellow, giving talks on science fiction periodicals and completing a recent essay for Amerikastudien /American Studies, “Between Periodical Studies and Intellectual History: KAPITALISTATE (1973-83) at the Dawn of Neoliberalism.”

I have also begun work on a second book project: a cultural history of “selling out.” A first essay from this research will appear in African American Review in 2021, entitled “From Obama’s Presidency to Beatty’s Booker Prize: On the Notion of the ‘Racial Sellout.'” And I have the draft for another chapter, on the literary history of selling out, in the works.

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