After an early career in the UK (graduate studies at Cambridge; teaching at the University of Kent), I came to UNL as a Professor in 2003.
From 2005 to 2019 I was the General Editor of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition, and also the General Editor of Cather Studies. In the latter capacity, I edited/co-edited (with my colleague, Melissa Homestead) three volumes of this specialist publication. My work on Cather also extended to a Bedford edition of My Ántonia, as well as directing three of the Cather International Seminars (the premier conference dedicated to her work). Alongside this research, I have also worked on internationalist/transnational aspects of American literary culture, producing Apostles of Modernity: American Writers in the Age of Development(2008). The latter focused on the post-war fiction, political writing and reportage by figures including Pearl Buck, Richard Wright, Peter Matthiessen, Susan Sontag, Paul Bowles and Malcolm X.
I have recently completed a book, to be published by Edinburgh UP in 2021—Sensing Willa Cather: the Writer and the Body in Transition. This is a body studies account of Cather's oeuvre, concentrating on how the senses (sight, touch etc.) are represented in her work, and become the basis of narrative itself. The book is also an account of Cather's proto-modernist aesthetics, and an exploration of how Cather responded to what I call the 'disrupted habitus' of a culture being re-mapped by immigration, white settlerdom and the entry of new selves (for instance, the female diva) into social space.
My current research now focuses on a sequel to Apostles of Modernity—a project that examines the American writing of ‘abroad’ at the end of the twentieth-century. Encompassing such figures as Deborah Eisenberg, William Vollmann, and Viet Thanh Nguyen, this research maps current transnational and transcultural writing, and develops a critical reading of global bodies in contemporary US literature.
A number of my essays and lectures, on Cather and other Americans, are available online via the ‘Selected Works’ electronic press.
Selected Publications and Projects
Willa Cather in Context: Progress, Race, Empire (New York: St. Martin’s, 1996).
Twentieth-Century American Women’s Fiction (London: Macmillan, 1999).
Ed., F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (Wordsworth edition available only in UK: 2001)
Ed., Willa Cather: Critical Assessments, 4 Volumes (Roberstsbridge, Sussex: Helm Information, 2003)
Ed., Cather Studies 7: Willa Cather as Cultural Icon (Lincoln: U of Nebraska Press, 2007)
Apostles of Modernity: American Writers in the Age of Development (Lincoln: U of Nebraska Press, 2008)
Ed., (with Melissa Homestead), Cather Studies 9: Willa Cather and Modern Cultures (Lincoln: U of Nebraska Press, 2011)
Ed., Willa Cather, My Ántonia (New York: Bedford, 2012)
Ed. Cather Studies 12: Willa Cather and the Arts (Lincoln: U of Nebraska Press, 2020)
Sensing Willa Cather: The Writer and the Body in Transition (Edinburgh: U of Edinburgh Press, 2021)