Director, Citizen Scholars Program
Associate Professor, Department of English
Office: 200 Linton Hall
I’m Associate Professor in the Department of English here at MSU, specializing in 16th and 17th century British literature and culture. I have particular interests in the historical and cultural contexts of drama and poetry from that period, as well as how literary works contest or support broader social and political agendas through their implicit and explicit meanings. I see all creative works as potentially engaged in debates concerning the conditions of society, and I enjoy figuring out how they contribute to those debates. I’m invested in gender issues, especially in how women are represented, and how they participated in their culture, even though they had few officially accepted roles and little acknowledged agency. In my scholarly work and teaching, I try to make connections between issues important today, and those important in those earlier times that I study. For example, I’m interested in how political leaders might be judged or excused for their moral values and behavior, depending on what else is at stake at the moment. Several of Shakespeare’s plays take up that question, and we have seen how it remains pertinent in our recent political events as well. So, even though I work in a period very different from our own, I see connections between the two, and my work in both areas is informed by the other.
I have a longstanding commitment to interdisciplinary work and to connecting across fields as well as time periods. I was a faculty leader in the creation of the Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities major and minor in the College of Arts and Letters, where I worked with a team of faculty from across the college to build an innovative new major and minor that bridges contexts and cultures to help us understand the interconnectedness of our world, past, present, and future. I bring many of the same commitments to this Citizen Scholars program, with our aim to recruit and train a diverse student body as the next generation of civic leaders and social innovators. I’m especially heartened by the effort to connect Arts and Letters students to their communities – local, regional, national, and global – and to bring their skills, knowledge, and interests to bear on the challenges we face as a society. Our greatest strength is our capacity to imagine a more just, equitable, and inclusive society, and I appreciate the opportunity to work together to bring that imagined future to life through the skills, capabilities, and knowledge we develop here.