Professor of English, Director of Literary and Cultural Studies Program
My interests are in feminist cultural studies, sexuality studies, performance studies, and eighteenth-century British cultural studies. My first book, Divided Fictions, was among the first feminist reconsiderations of the novelist Frances Burney and Sexual Suspects, a book about actors and ideologies of sexuality in eighteenth-century Britain, helped to direct theater and feminist studies of the early modern period toward a now-burgeoning interest in performance and its cultural contexts, particularly how sexuality is imagined in popular culture. Domestics Affairs explores how labor, gender, and sexuality are integrally related in the practices and ideologies of London domestic service, in particular, and how we might think about the relation between these usually distinct categories in other historical instances. My most recent research takes me to "weird" performances of Shakespeare in eighteenth-century Britain, operas, farces, pantomimes, parodies, "secret histories" and other genres that draw on Shakespeare's plays. Like Sexual Suspects, this new work relates the formation of modern gender and sexual identities to the performance culture of eighteenth-century British theater. I am also co-curating, with Janine Barchas, a Jane Austen expert from the University of Texas at Austin, an exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library entitled, “Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity.”
I am very grounded in classroom teaching; interactions with my students keep me intellectually alert, honest, and attuned to the importance of making "academic" issues matter to how we think about and live our lives. I have created a cultural studies edition of Burney's first novel, Evelina, for classroom use, as well as contributing to the Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Drama, both of which grew out of my commitment to developing good texts for cultural studies classes. I am currently working on a new Anthology and Sourcebook of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Drama for Routledge Press that will include materials that highlight the performance of these plays in their time period. I teach courses in Gender Studies, Feminist Cultural Studies, Performance Studies, and early modern British literature and culture.