My primary areas of interest include digital culture, media theory and media history, experimental fiction, the novel, the Gothic, modernism, reading, sound studies, and the history and future of the book.
My first book, Out of Print: Mediating Information in the Novel and the Book (University of Massachusetts Press, December 2020) analyzes how print novels have functioned as information media and challenged modern information culture’s prevailing ideology that information is neutral and autonomous. I argue that the form of the book, in its complex co-evolution with media and information forms, has had a substantial impact on the novel’s role as an information medium—and that the novel, in turn, offers crucial insights into the consequences of the book’s marginalization in information management. What is lost in today’s era of information scale and mediating interfaces is knowledge of the ways that information is embodied by media and situated within informational systems. I examine experimental novels that foreground their textual materiality, arguing that these novels explore how books limit and shape text in order to insist that data only becomes meaningful insofar as it is given form and understood within its social contexts. My analysis traces the roots of the contemporary obscuration of form to the early decades of the twentieth century, studying how the print book fared, and how modernist novelists responded, as the burgeoning profession of information science grappled with unprecedented quantities of data. Pairing close readings of archival novels with case studies from information history, I argue that the print book has served, for novelists and the reading public as well as information professionals, as a counterpoint to conceptualizations of information as immaterial and ineffable.
I am currently working on a book project called The Audio Uncanny: Mediated Sounds, Gendered Voices, and Gothic Fictions. The Audio Uncanny is an intersectional feminist analysis of sound mediation that documents the history of sound’s profound influence on representations of the supernatural. I argue that Gothic narratives that post-date sound recording have consistently figured sound both as inherently ghostly and as an index to the real. This epistemological instability, I contend, arises out of the uneasy imbrication of gender, corporeality, and mediation in sound’s uncanny history, from the tappings of women spiritualists to the vocal persona of Amazon’s Alexa. The Gothic narratives I study leverage sound in three ways: to provide a means of determining whether the apparently impossible phenomena within their diegetic worlds actually exist; to perpetuate the conceit that these fictional narratives are accounts of real events; and to reify or contest feminine passivity in the mediation of sounds and spirits. I analyze audio narratives and written texts from the late nineteenth century to the present, 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.”