I joined the University of California, Riverside faculty in 2008, having previously taught in Great Britain– at the University of Nottingham and at University of London, Birkbeck, where I was Reader in Literature and Theory. I hold a University of California Presidential Chair, and for 2015-16 I was awarded a Fulbright Visiting Professorship at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities.
I work in eighteenth and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, and critical theory, with recent work in Arctic humanities, exploration history, history of the disciplines, science studies, collecting, geography, oceanic studies, history of the book and of authorship.
In 2016 I have two new books out: Writing Arctic Disaster: Authorship and Exploration was published in the Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture Series, and examines the roles played by print and manuscript authorship practices in Arctic exploration, from the seventeenth through the late nineteenth century. Writing Arctic Disaster offers a genealogy of the circulation of multidisciplinary knowledge about and in the Arctic, through diverse institutions (Hudson’s Bay Company and Admiralty), networks (indigenous and commercial), authors, and media (printed, manuscript, cartographic, graffiti, visual, material culture). Also published in 2016 is The Material Culture of Enlightenment Arts and Sciences (Palgrave), co-edited with Simon Schaffer (Cambridge Univ.), which includes over 30 contributors and more than 70 images exploring the rich interplay of the history of science and the arts in the global eighteenth century.
My previous books include Fatal Women of Romanticism (Cambridge University Press, 2003, 2009) and British Women Writers and the French Revolution: Citizens of the World (Palgrave, 2005), as well as several collections and editions. I have published over thirty essays in journals including PMLA, New Literary History, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Victorian Literature and Culture, Atlantic Studies, European Romantic Review, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, Women’s Writing.
I am working on two new projects: Arctic Enlightenments, a book focused on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and earlier Enlightenment and 19th-century efforts (textual, archival, experimental) to extend botanical life into deep time; and The Star Gazers: Astronomy, Poetry and Sexuality in 19th-Century Ireland, focused on the extraordinary circles of poet Eliza Mary Hamilton and her brother William Rowan Hamilton, the renowned mathematician and Royal Astronomer of Ireland. With Mary Terrall I am also editing Explorations, Encounters, and the Circulation of Knowledge (Toronto University Press).
I direct the University of California Multi-campus Research Group on “The Material Cultures of Knowledge” (materialcultures.ucr.edu), and have curated several recent conferences: “Things: 18th Century Material Cultures” (a two-part event co-organized with Prof. Simon Schaffer, held at the Huntington Library and at Cambridge University in 2012); “Indisciplines of Enlightenment” (July 2012, UC Berkeley); “Inscriptions: The Material Contours of Knowledge” (UC Riverside, 2011); “The Oceanic Turn: Beyond Disciplinary Territorialization” (2009). The latter events were part of the series “The Disorder of Things: Predisciplinarity and the Divisions of Knowledge,” and produced the special issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies devoted to The Disorder of Things (Oct. 2011). In 2014-2015 I was UCLA Clark Professor, and with Prof. Mary Terrall I curated a series of three conferences at the Clark Library on Exploration, Encounters and the Circulation of Knowledge.
I serve on the Events Committee of the “Romantic Bicentennials” group, currently coordinating numerous international events to commemorate the 200 year anniversary of key Romantic-era cultural events beginning in 2016. I am also an international partner in the “Arctic Modernities” research group, funded by the Polar Programme of the Norwegian Research Council (2013-2016), and have been awarded research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), the National Maritime Museum (UK), the Canadian government, the University of Limerick (Ireland), the Fulbright Program, and the University of California.