I received my BA from New York University and my PhD from SUNY Buffalo. At Buffalo, I edited the issue of the Lacanian journal Umbr(a) on the topic of “Semblance,” as well as the issue of Theory@Buffalo on “Democracy and Violence.” An article entitled “Reflecting on Revolutions in France: Lacan and Burke” appeared recently in Theory&Event. In this article, I argue that Burke’s work could be read not only as reactionary, but as predicting the mode of insurgent conservatism that Lacan calls “university discourse.” Another recent publication entitled “Dark Humor and Moral Sense Theory: Or, How Swift Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Evil” appeared recently in Eighteenth-Century Fiction. In this article, I suggest that two very different eighteenth-century Irish writers, Jonathan Swift and Francis Hutcheson, simultaneously imagine the possibility of an ethical form of evil in their most famous works, which were published only a few years apart during the 1720s in Dublin. My current book project is tentatively titled “Ludicrous Solemnity: Irony and the Eighteenth-Century Novel.” This project contends that a particularly intense earnestness is the corollary of satiric aggression, and that both the early novel, and the satire contemporary with it, deploy this pair, though to different ends. The ironic experimentalism of the early novel is not only responsible for its creativity and novelty, but also for its tendency to seem more aggressive and polemical than later counterparts: Behn’s Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister, for example, is both one of the first extended novels in English, but also a pointed political satire. Indeed, works from this period often resemble a description sometimes applied to Swift’s A Tale of a Tub: they seem like parodies of forms that do not yet exist. The aggressiveness of the early novel is not opposed to its earnestness, I argue, but is rather what focuses and orients its discovery of new forms and modes of literary experience.

Name Title Description


Texts and Meaning

An introduction to the study of the structures and methods by which texts create and convey meaning. Texts and approaches will be determined by individual instructors, but all emphasize reflective, critical reading, as well as text-centered discussions and written assignments.


Interpretive Strategies

Addressing issues and questions specific to literary and cultural analysis and in the process exploring various interpretive strategies through which ideas of the literary and of literary study are engaged. The content and perspective of this course will vary according to instructor. Students will read primary theoretical texts, and will write about how theories of literature might inform ways of reading prose, poetry, drama, and/or film. By the end of the term, students should have a sense of how over the years critical debate has shaped the many practices of reading literature.


Writing with Writers

Supervised by a prominent writer, students will work on their own creative projects. The genre (prose fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry) will change from year to year.


Restoration & 18th Cnt Eng Lit

Survey of English literature and culture from the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 to the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. Covers a range of literary genres, such as drama, satiric poetry, travel narratives, periodical essays, and novels. Students will examine the historical, social, political, and intellectual backgrounds for these texts, including the declining influence of court culture, the construction of a colonial market economy, discourses of slavery and abolition, and considerations of gender and marriage. Authors studied include: Rochester, Behn, Pope, Equiano, and others.


Eighteenth Century Novel

Novels are so familiar that it is hard to believe that there was ever at time when they did not exist. However, in Shakespeare's day, there was not yet a novel in the modern sense, while a bit over a century later the novel was the most widely-read of non-religious literary forms. In this course we will explore the changes--in literacy, class structure, international relations, gender norms, print culture, language, and religion--that this new genre reflected. Authors covered may include Behn, Manley, Defoe, Haywood, Swift, Lennox, Fielding, Richardson, Collier, Burney, Goldsmith, Radcliffe, and Austen.


Revolution and Reaction

Focuses on appreciating the diversity of thought collected under the term conservatism. The courses will celebrate the diversity, inconsistencies, and variable unity of the divergent ideas sometimes considered synonymous with conservatism.



Readings in satirical literature of all genres and many periods, with an emphasis on satire of the early eighteenth and the late twentieth centuries. Some attention to satire in forms other than literature. Focus on function, method, characteristics, and problems of the satirical mode.


Senior Seminar in English

Course topic changes with each offering.


Blog w Adam Smith & Karl Marx

Introduces students to the major ethical debates underpinning the early social scientific thought of writers like Hobbes, Mandeville, Hutcheson, Hume, Smith, Ricardo, Mill, and Marx. Writing assignments will explore how this ethical heritage continues to influence contemporary discussions of social policy.


Why Are You Laughing?

Explore the elusive questions of what is comedy and what is funny, in contexts of subversive social and political critique. Focus on understanding comedy's shifting role in art, literature, politics, and culture, as well as its often fraught relationship with questions of race, class, and gender. Develop a sophisticated palate for comedy, studying works ranging from Aristophanes to Archer.


History of Ideas in Context II

Texts and ideas from a variety of disciplines and genres (including the humanities, fine arts, and political philosophy) in both Western and non-Western cultural contexts. Topics will vary.

SUNY Buffalo
New York University

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