Research

My research focuses on Herman Melville's relationship to a set of scientific discourses, which include but are by no means limited to biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology, and electromagnitism. 

 

Melville's Ontology focuses on the ways Melville draws on those narratives to push back against legal conceptions of "personhood," especially after 1850.

 

Rethinking Ahab: Melville and the Materialist Turn turns to a set of related materialist discourses that simultaneously reframe "Ahab" in terms of atomism, vitalism, materialist psychology, disability studies, and the environmental humanities—and recast him as a focal point for interrogating the multitude of ways that "materialism" is being drawn on as a conceptual resource in our moment.

 

"Melville and Meteorology: Three Ways of Looking at a Vortex" draws on work by René Descartes, Thomas Beale, and William Redfield to suggest that the vortex at the end of Moby-Dick is actually a typhoon or a hurricane. This essay is currently under review.
 

"Herman Melville and Joseph Henry at the Albany Academy; or, Melville's Education in Mathematics & Science" situates Melville at the heart of a community transformed by what we now call "STEM" fields. Melville studied with Henry, who built the first prototype of a telegraph and designed a groundbreaking meteorological project.

 

In addition, of course, to work on Melville, I have drafted an essay on Emerson's "Natural History of Intellect," an article tentatively titled "How to Count in Stephen Crane's The Monster, and a piece that considers Poe and Doyle's detectives in terms of the rise of "objectivity."

My future work will focus on overlapping discussions of nineteenth-century hurricanes, the “American Storm Controversy,” and antebellum attempts to model climate change. This could end with the so-called "Great Storm" that decimated my hometown, Galveston Island, in 1900, 

but it could also easily move to the present and pressing concerns about the relationships between major storms and social justice.