My primary areas of interest include media theory and media history, the novel, modernism, contemporary literature, the Gothic, and the history of the book.
I am currently working on two book projects.
Out of Print: Mediating Information in the Novel and the Book reshapes current theorizations of form by demonstrating that the form of the print book—in its complex co-evolution with media and information forms—has had a substantial impact on the novel. I study modernist and contemporary print novels that self-reflexively play with the book’s material form, exploring what can be created out of print. This project makes three important interventions in critical debates about the relationship between literature and media culture. First, Out of Print constructs form as a category that draws together novels, information, books, and other textual media. Combining literary analysis with media archaeology and information history, I show that, since the modernist period, British, Irish, and American novelists have looked to information media as models for literary form. Second, I explain why this novelistic investment in the book intensified during the early twentieth and twenty-first centuries, arguing that it occurred in response to concerns about new magnitudes of information. We should, I contend, view the modernist period as an origin point for today’s information culture because the principle that vast amounts of information are best managed via mediating interfaces—the principle that underpins the culture of Big Data—was first established a century ago. Finally, Out of Print deepens our theorization of form by establishing the novel as a key site for understanding how information has been imagined, represented, and mediated at scale.
The Audio Uncanny: Sound Recording and Gothic Fiction shifts the focus of Gothic studies from the textual and visual to the aural. Demonstrating that the history of sound has had a profound influence on representations of the supernatural, The Audio Uncanny argues that Gothic narratives that post-date sound recording have consistently figured sound both as an index to the real and as inherently ghostly. These narratives leverage sound in two ways: first, to provide a means of determining whether the apparently impossible supernatural phenomena within their diegetic worlds actually exist; and, second, to perpetuate the conceit that these fictional narratives are documentary accounts of real events. These Gothic narratives, in other words, use sound to render ontological claims doubly suspect, interrogating what it means to distinguish fact from fiction. After describing sound’s importance to early Gothic novels, The Audio Uncanny proceeds chronologically from the age of the phonograph, through radio and recorded books, up to digital podcasts. I analyze audio narratives as well as written texts, showing that these Gothic fictions are in dialogue with the epistemological claims made for sound by spiritualists, paranormal investigators, and early users of sound media.
For more information about my work, see “Publications.”