I have long been interested in travel writing, a genre that dovetails often with my focus on modern and contemporary American writing. In recent years, much of my research has been in the archives: At Ohio State University, I examined documents having to do with the contentious composition of explorer Richard Byrd’s best-selling Polar adventure, Alone, a work largely ghost-written by Charles Murphy; at Vassar College I researched Elizabeth Bishop’s use of the postcard and her development of a picturesque aesthetic as seen in her travel writings, journals and poems. Currently I’m reading material in the Martha Gellhorn archive at Boston University, working on a project that will utilize biography as a means of exploring the intriguing connections between her writing as a war correspondent, as a traveler, and as a novelist and short story writer. It’s her correspondence, though, that often gives me the strongest sense of the force and liveliness of her personality. She minces no words: “What, what, WHAT has happened to you?,” she writes to her friend Bernard Perlin. “You cannot, like all Americans, have lost the power to set pen to paper? Reassure me, please.” Her archive is a rich trove of material about her fascinating life as well as a veritable catalog of the woes of the twentieth century.
Contemporary fiction; American poetry; travel writing; metafiction; autobiography
- “'All the untidy activity': Travel & the Picturesque in Elizabeth Bishop’s Writings,” Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive, Bethany Hicok, ed. (Lever Press, 2019): 173-192.
- “Writing Alone Together: Richard Byrd’s Antarctic Classic and the Challenges of Reading Collaborative Autobiography,” The Polar Journal 6.2 (2016): 328-342.
- “Writing Wonder: Elizabeth Bishop’s Ethics of Perception,” Environmental Ethics 36.3 (Fall 2014): 319-332.
- “What Is an Experience? Selves and Texts in the Comics Autobiographies of Alison Bechdel and Lynda Barry,” Drawing from Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art, Jane Tolmie, ed. (University Press of Mississippi, 2013): 26–43.