I am a scholar, writer, and literary critic. I specialize in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature, although I write about a variety of topics across the humanities. My work has appeared in a range of academic journals, edited collections, and more generalist publications, while I have also published a monograph, Minds in Motion: Imagining Empiricism in Eighteenth-Century Travel Literature (2017; 2021), and the Broadview edition of Margaret Cavendish's Grounds of Natural Philosophy (2020). I am now at work on two new monographs: One on erratic thinking in the so-called 'Age of Reason,' and another on Cavendish and time.
I am an Associate Professor of English at National University of Singapore, where I have been based for the past decade. Previously, I completed my PhD and a postdoctoral fellowship at Fordham University in New York City and my BA at the University of California at Berkeley. I have lived, taught, and studied all over the world---including Bangkok, Paris, and Florence---and now spend as much time as possible in the rare books room at The British Library in London (desk #216). In 2021-22, I was a Visiting Scholar in the Faculty of Literature at Oxford University, and, across Michaelmas and Hilary terms 2022-23, I am a Sassoon Fellow at The Bodleian Library at Oxford. Later in 2023, I will be a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre at Australian National University.
My interests in narrative and culture are wide-ranging, from seventeenth-century microscopy to contemporary historiography. However, much of my academic research focuses on the co-emergence of aesthetics and science. Specifically, I study how philosophical and scientific concepts are articulated in narrative and how durable those concepts are when they are translated into literary form and interrogated by a wide range of people. This focus on literature, phenomenology, and science means that I pay close attention to how eighteenth-century authors develop rhetorical strategies that are adequate to the demands of the earliest and most enthusiastic phases of British empiricism and, in turn, how science borrows the techniques of imaginative writing. It also entails that I think carefully about how literature corresponds to other forms of knowledge making at a time when disciplines themselves are just beginning to differentiate.
Authors of special interest -- that is, those with whom I have spent spectacular amounts of time -- include Margaret Cavendish, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Johnson, and a whole crew of pirates and privateers (Dampier, Anson, and Exquemelin among them).
I teach a variety of literature courses, from entry-level introductions to prose fiction to advanced honours modules in special topics. My regular courses include The Eighteenth-Century Novel; The Eighteenth-Century: Material Cultures; Jonathan Swift; Literature and Philosophy; and Literature and New Worlds, 1590-1750.
Additionally, I supervise the research of both undergraduates (in ISMs and honors theses) and postgraduates (at the MA and the PhD level). While I can best direct research on topics related to eighteenth-century studies, travel literature, early women writers, science studies, the history of philosophy, and the history of the novel, I also enjoy supervising students who pursue obliquely related topics (from the medical humanities to post-humanism).
Although I have been fortunate to work with a truly gifted set of students at NUS, I have a broad range of other teaching experience: I taught an eccentric cohort of courses as a doctoral student, postdoctoral fellow, and a visiting fellow in various locations (from basic college composition to Shakespeare to modernism). These experiences with diverse sets of students, skill levels, global settings, and university systems have made me, I hope, a more capable, agile, and creative instructor.
Most importantly, perhaps, I am gratified to know that students appreciate my teaching. At NUS, for example, I have been nominated for our faculty-level Teaching Excellence Award (FTEA) in each year that I was eligible to receive it; I was awarded the FTEA in 2014 (for AY2013-14), 2015 (for AY2014-15), and 2021 (for AY2020-21).