Fields of Interest:
I am an American cultural and intellectual historian with a focus on the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Broadly speaking, I am concerned with the values, assumptions, and anxieties that have shaped American life, as reflected in both high culture and the experiences of ordinary people. My research has focused in recent years on the history of reading: My book Songs of Ourselves: The Uses of Poetry in America (Harvard University Press, 2007), for which I received a Guggenheim Fellowship, explores how readers made meaning in the past. I also have a book of essays titled Cultural Considerations due out this summer from the University of Massachusetts Press; the pieces in that volume address the activities, in the years following World War II, of literary critics and musicians who functioned as mediators of culture to the public. Cultural Considerations is in some respects a continuation of my work on cultural mediators in the interwar period, The Making of Middlebrow Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 1992). Other projects include co-editorship of the forthcoming Oxford Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History and my contributions to A History of the Book in America as both author and editor. I have also written a book about the critic and cultural historian Constance Rourke.
I offer the following fields for the PhD qualifying examination. For explanations of fields, see the "Graduate Overview" page in the Graduate Handbook.
US History II
I will be accepting students for admission in Fall 2015.
- HIS 252: Cultural History of the United States, 1876-Present
- HIS 264: The Idea of America
- HIS 361W/461: America and the World II
- HIS 383W: Topics in Twentieth-Century American History
- HIS 500: Problems in Historical Analysis