Title/s: Associate Professor
Specialty Area: British literature, American and British modernism, music, rhetoric, poetry, religious poetry
Office #: Crown Center 419
Most of my work has been on 20th century literature, particularly the poetry and prose of T. S. Eliot. I have recently completed a monograph, Becoming T. S. Eliot, on the development of voice and audience in Eliot’s early poetry. I have also edited, with two colleagues, the first critical edition of Eliot’s Complete Prose, Vol. 5. We will soon be developing a robust digital platform for an expanded second edition of this monumental eight-volume project.
My theoretical inclinations have been strongly shaped by Chicago School rhetoric, and to a lesser extent by Bakhtinian discourse analysis and deconstruction. An introductory rhetoric text, Think About It, co-authored with John and Karen Mauk, is still in use in college classrooms.
The work that most excites me, in my own research and those whom I read with interest, is historical research, which includes archival work that digs up forgotten contexts, buried manuscripts, and lost ideas, restoring them to the aesthetic texts from which they have been stripped by time and tide. As a consequence, I am also interested in reception history. With the recent completion of the eight volumes of Eliot’s Complete Prose, and the continuing project of Eliot’s Letters (currently at Vol. 8, with at least a dozen more to come), there is much to be discovered and rewritten about Eliot’s work and the history of modernism.
Other abiding interests include the personal essay—a form I write in, study and teach—and religious expression in poetry and literature. My early work applied discourse theory to music, poetry, and opera; I continue to be interested in how music is represented in literary texts and how its forms and procedures have been adapted to literary ends.
As a teacher, I emphasize close reading of poetry as a rhetorical, rather than formalist, practice. Certainly, it involves the unraveling of grammar and syntax and the identification of tropes and figures. But on a more basic level of human communication, my pedagogy identifies the foundational issues of what is being communicated (logos), who is speaking (ethos), to whom (pathos), and why (the rhetorical situation). Only after such attention has been paid to the line-by-line movement and rhetorical shape of a text do I widen the scope to the contexts of history and biography. Questions of how and when to resist the ideology of a text are always on the table: while generally eschewing high-handed dismissals and absolutist judgments, I believe that the recognition of a text’s problematic assumptions can co-exist with a nuanced understanding of its historical contexts and an appreciation of its artistic merit. In graduate-level courses, I place these methods in the service of tracking how the critical conversation surrounding a text changes over time and what is at stake in that evolution.
BA, Music and English, University of Notre Dame
MA, PhD, English, University of Toledo
MDiv, Theology, Boston College
President, International T. S. Eliot Society
American Literature and Culture, British Literature and Culture, Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture, Composition and Rhetoric, Textual Studies and Digital Humanities, Poetry and Poetics, Literary Theory
British literature; British and American modernism; T. S. Eliot; 19th and 20th c. music and opera; rhetoric; textual studies; digital humanities; history of criticism and theory
The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition. Vol. 5: Tradition and Orthodoxy, 1934-1939. Co-editor with Ronald Schuchard and Iman Javadi. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins UP and Faber and Faber, 2017.
S. Eliot, France, and the Mind of Europe. Editor. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2015
Articles, Essays, and Chapters:
Think About It: Critical Skills for Academic Writing. Co-author with John Mauk and Karen Mauk. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage, 2014.
“Of Commas and Facts: Editing Volume 5 of The Complete Prose.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual Editing Eliot Forum. Ed. John Morgenstern. Clemson: Clemson UP, 2018. 121-28.
“The Short and Surprisingly Private Life of King Bolo: Eliot’s Bawdy Poems and Their Audiences.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual. Ed. John Morgenstern. Clemson: Clemson UP, 2017. 3-30.
“Eliot’s Culture Shock: Imagining an Audience for the Paris Poems.” T. S. Eliot, France, and the Mind of Europe. Ed. Jayme Stayer. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2015. 64-74.
“Excerpts from a Life, with Marilyn Horne Wailing in the Background.” The Hudson Review 66.2 (2013): 297-323. https://hudsonreview.com/2013/08/excerpts-from-a-life-with-marilyn-horne-wailing-in-the-background/#.XOL6UlNKiV4
“T. S. Eliot as a Schoolboy: The Lockwood School, Smith Academy, and Milton Academy.” Twentieth-Century Literature 59.4 (2013): 619-56.
“Sh*t Christian Poets Say: The Problems of God-Talk, Sentimentality, and Style.” The Jesuit Post (https://thejesuitpost.org/2012/02/sht-christian-poets-say-the-problems-of-god-talk-sentimentality-and-style/) Part I—15 Feb. 2012; Part II—22 Feb. 2012. Web. Rpt. in The Jesuit Post. Ed. Patrick Gilger, SJ. New York: Orbis, 2014. 151-59.
“I Grow Old: T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ and Inventions of the March Hare 100 Years On.” Literature Compass 9.4 (2012): 317-25. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1741-4113.2011.00877.x
“Searching for the Early Eliot: Inventions of the March Hare.” A Companion to T. S. Eliot. Ed. David E. Chinitz. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 107-19.