Research

As a scholar, I work across disciplines to address how literary works and literary studies can contribute to difficult conversations about social and environmental justice, considering how form and genre allow stories to mediate between individual experience and systemic explanations of inequity.

My book in progress, "Genre Frictions: Structural Violence, Activist Forms, and American Literature," explores how emerging structural understandings of violence shaped both American fiction and American social movements from the 1960s to the present. In four chapters, I trace the development of a formal feature that I call “genre friction”: the politically productive tension that emerges when texts shift back and forth between realist and speculative genres. Genre friction, I argue, is not only a defining feature of contemporary U.S. fiction, but also a powerful strategy for integrating the "difficult knowledge" of slow, structural, and environmental violence into everyday life. Some of the novelists whose work I engage across this project include Octavia Butler, Ana Castillo, Don DeLillo, Ruth Ozeki, Ishmael Reed, Leslie Marmon Silko, Helena María Viramontes, Jesmyn Ward, Colson Whitehead, and Karen Tei Yamashita. An article drawn from the final chapter from that project, tracing the afterlife of the plantation in petrochemical and carceral infrastructure in the U.S. South and the treatment of these post-plantation legacies in gothic fiction by Black writers, was recently published in American Literature.

I have also begun work on two future projects: one exploring how Afrofuturist literature, film, and art mobilize affect to produce counterhegemonic forms of environmental citizenship; the other tracing how heteroglossia and polyphony mediate climate justice, migration, and geopolitics in global Anthropocene novels. Meanwhile, my work at the intersections of contemporary literature, SF, and environmental humanities has appeared in ASAP/Journal, Science Fiction Studies, Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, The Cambridge History of Science Fiction, An Ecotopian Lexicon, and Women's Studies Quarterly, and is forthcoming in The New Routledge Companion to Science Fiction. I have also contributed review essays to American Literature and Public Books and write regularly for the SF section of the Los Angeles Review of Books.