I grew up in New York City where I attended Hunter College High School, a state secondary school in Manhattan. I did my undergraduate degree at Princeton University, majoring in English literature. I returned to New York to work for a few years before moving further down the east coast to Philadelphia to study for my MA and PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. I wrote my dissertation on C.L.R. James and concepts of cultural creolization under the supervision of Professors Sandra Pouchet Paquet and Betsy Erkkila. I was first appointed as Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland and then Associate Professor at the University of California, San Diego before relocating to the United Kingdom. Prior to joining Exeter College and the Faculty of English in 2022, I held lectureships at Goldsmiths, University of London and the University of Reading and I also worked for several years at the English Subject Centre, an organization that supported the research and practice of teaching and learning in UK further and higher education.
My research is primarily focused on modern African American and Caribbean literature. My first book, C.L.R. James and Creolization: Circles of Influence (2001) places Caribbean-born James in conversation with African American writers including Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison. I have an abiding interest in concepts and representations of racialisation and modern life and I explore these issues in U.S. American, Caribbean diaspora and Black British literatures spanning various genres and historical periods. I often use a comparative approach to see how particular texts speak to one another across time or place. I am currently writing my second book, Black Childhood in Modern African American Fiction. In this work and in recent articles, I explore the literary representations of children, young adults, blackness and modernity in novels and short stories from 1945 onwards.
I have supervised PhD theses on eighteenth-century transatlantic colonialism; nineteenth-century narratives of black U.S women’s activism and twentieth-century Caribbean cultural discourse. I welcome PhD student applications in any of my areas of research including African American literature and culture, Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora literature and culture, modern and contemporary literatures of the Americas, and literary representations of age and racialisation.
Media and Other Work
I have enjoyed working as an ‘On-screen expert contributor’ to Channel 5’s ‘A Big History of America’ (first aired 31 October 2020) and to BBC TWO’s ‘Novels That Shaped Our World, (Series 1, Episode 1: A Woman’s Place’ first aired 9 November 2019). I was also the Research and Production Advisor for the award-winning production of Death Of A Salesman, directed by Marianne Elliot and Miranda Cromwell, which was staged at the Piccadilly Theatre, London (October 2019) and The Young Vic Theatre, London (April 2019). I am an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of American Studies, Irish Journal of American Studies, and the European Journal of American Culture. I am also a Fellow of the English Association and have served as one of its Trustees since 2014. I was awarded Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2017 for my work in educational research and leadership.