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I specialize in 20th-century literature and music, and my most recent book, Becoming T. S. Eliot, focuses on the development of voice and audience in Eliot’s early poetry. I have also edited the first critical edition of Eliot’s Complete Prose, Vol. 5, which was awarded MLA's Prize for a Scholarly Edition. My co-editors and I are now developing a robust digital platform for an expanded second edition of this monumental eight-volume project.
My theoretical inclinations, including my interest in the textual condition and digital humanities, have been shaped by Chicago School rhetoric, and to a lesser extent by discourse analysis, biographical criticism, and political criticism. My earliest publications applied discourse theory to music, poetry, and opera, and 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.
The work that most excites me is historical research, especially archival work that digs up forgotten contexts, buried manuscripts, and lost ideas, restoring these contexts to the artistic texts from which they have been stripped by time and tide. History, of course, includes biography—which is history writ small. Surprisingly for such a popular genre, biography has long been snubbed by literature departments. But biography and biographical criticism—along with autobiography, memoir and autofiction—are being newly theorized, understood as central to aesthetic judgment. From minor quibbles with one stanza to wholesale rejections of an artist’s entire oeuvre, ethical judgments of art almost always rely on biography. In our current focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, literary critics are no longer only concerned with what literature means or even what its effects are in the world, but with the intentions, biases, and attitudes of the creator. Such necessary judgments call for a nuanced understanding of how biography can simplify or illuminate, how it can be used or misused.
For me, as teacher and researcher, the methodology that holds all of these unequal and vari-directional emphases together is rhetoric, with its perennial questions of: who is speaking? to which audiences? and for what purposes? While archival work, historical research, the textual condition, biography, poetics, and rhetoric are my preferred guideposts and methodologies, a harder-to-name impulse in my work moves near those edges where language fails and theory fears to tread: namely, a cathectedness towards those more vulnerable, interior forms of writing that draw on the personal, the affective, and the spiritual. Music and poetry have long been understood as the privileged domain of the unsayable. This space is where I invite my students and readers: not to master human experience, but to explore, without resolving, its contradictions and complexities, to edge closer to its mystery and diversity.
- BA, Music and English, University of Notre Dame
- MA & PhD, English, University of Toledo
- MDiv, Theology, Boston College
- 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
- Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Music and Opera
- British and American Modernism
- History of Criticism and Theory
- Religious Poetry
- President, International T. S. Eliot Society
Appointments and Fellowships
- Visiting Fellow in Literature and Religion, Campion Hall, Oxford University; academic year 2022-23
- The Francis C. Wade Chair, Marquette University, WI; spring semester 2018.
- Grauel Fellowship, John Carroll University; academic year 2015-16.
Awards and Grants
- Sujack Family Award, Master Researcher, Loyola University Chicago, 2022
- T.S. Eliot Foundation Grant, London, UK 2022
- Modern Language Association Prize for a Scholarly Edition, 2019, for 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. 2017.
- Hodson Trust funding, administered through Johns Hopkins University Press, for archival research at the Eliot Foundation, London, UK, 2016.
- Catholic Press Association, First Place for Popular Presentation of Catholic Faith (contributing author to edited book collection, The Jesuit Post) 2015.
- Becoming T. S. Eliot: The Rhetoric of Voice and Audience in Inventions of the March Hare. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2021
- 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.
- T. S. Eliot, France, and the Mind of Europe. Editor. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2015
- Think About It: Critical Skills for Academic Writing. Co-author with John Mauk and Karen Mauk. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage, 2014.
- “Snuggling Up to the Abyss.” The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual. Vol. 4. “The Waste Land Centennial Forum.” Ed. Frances Dickey and Julia Daniel. Clemson: Clemson UP, 145-59.
- “Ambition and Despair: The Centenary of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.” Catholic Herald (UK). 29 Nov. 2021
- “Introduction: Modernism and the Turn to Religion,” co-authored with Craig Woelfel. Renascence 73.1 (Winter 2021): 3-11.
- “The Temptations of the Hale Archive.” Time Present 103 (2021): 1+.
- “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.
- “Tradition and Orthodoxy, 1934-1939: Introduction.” The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition. Vol. 5: Tradition and Orthodoxy, 1934-1939. Ronald Schuchard, Iman Javadi, and Jayme Stayer. Johns Hopkins UP, and Faber and Faber, 2017. xi-xxxvi.
- “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.” 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 Review2 (2013): 297-323.
- “T. S. Eliot as a Schoolboy: The Lockwood School, Smith Academy, and Milton Academy.” Twentieth-Century Literature 4 (2013): 619-56.
- “Sh*t Christian Poets Say: The Problems of God-Talk, Sentimentality, and Style.” The Jesuit Post Part I—15 Feb. 2012; Part II—22 Feb. 2012. Web. Rpt. in The Jesuit Post. 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 4 (2012): 317-25.
- “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
- Rev. of Modernist Fraud: Hoax, Parody, Deception, by Leonard Diepeveen. Review of English Studies 71.300 (2020): 601-04.
- Rev. of How to Play a Poem, by Don Bialostosky. Poetics Today 40.4 (2019): 747-49.
- Rev. of Poetry and Theology in the Modernist Period, by Anthony Domestico. Modernism/modernity 26.1 (2019): 233-35.
- Rev. of The Elder Statesman, by T. S. Eliot. Washington Stage Guild. Undercroft Theatre, Washington, DC. Time Present 81 (2013): 6-7.
- Rev. of T. S. Eliot, by Craig Raine. Time Present 63 (2007): 1+.
- “Pound and Eliot.” Co-author with Alec Marsh. American Literary Scholarship: An Annual 2004. Ed. David J. Nordloh. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2006. 151-68.
- “Ambivalence All Around.” Rev. T. S. Eliot and the Cultural Divide, by David E. Chinitz. Twentieth-Century Literature 51.4 (2005): 504-11.
- Rev. of The Waste Land: Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism, ed. Michael North. T. S. Eliot Society Newsletter 46 (2002): 3-4.
- “Turning in the Widening Gyres of Eliot Criticism.” Rev. of T. S. Eliot and Our Turning World, ed. Jewel Spears Brooker. Journal of Modern Literature 24.3/4 (2001): 525-28.
- Rev. of Eliot’s Dark Angel: Intersections of Life and Art, by Ronald Schuchard. Modernism/modernity 8.3 (2001): 517-19.