Degrees: PhD, MA, MSc (University of Toronto); BA (Concordia); BSc (Trent)
- Assistant Professor (CLTA), Teaching Stream, Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Toronto
- Assistant Professor (CLTA), Teaching Stream, Graduate Centre for Academic Communication, University of Toronto (2018)
- Postdoctoral Fellow, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Department of English, McGill University (2016-2017)
- Assistant Professor (CLTA), English Department, Concordia University (2014-2015)
- Associate, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Victoria College, University of Toronto (2015-2016).
- Visiting Scholar (2014), Junior Fellow (2009-2013), Massey College
Research interests: Modern & contemporary fiction; literature & science; narrative theory; genre; unnatural narratology; experimental nonfiction; narrative and science; adaptation theory; genetics & Darwinism; science communication and outreach.
Teaching interests: Modern & contemporary literature; modernism; narrative; poetry and poetics; British literature, 1700-present; Irish literature; creative writing; science & literature.
My research focuses primarily on how scientific discoveries and theories are exploited by literary writers seeking to produce unconventional or even new narrative structures and stylistic effects. That said, I am also increasingly interested in reading aspects of scientific texts (including diagrams and models) as creative or even literary narratives. Given my training in biology, my studies focus primarily on the life sciences (evolution, genetics, embryology, ecology), but I’m also interested in literary engagements with statistics and quantum mechanics. My book Modernist Life Histories: Biological Theory and the Experimental Bildungsroman was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2019.
I am working on a new book of essays that link narratological and poetic devices (for example, unreliability, second-person narration, disnarration, and trochaic inversions) to the narrative’s or poem’s subject matter. For example, I am writing on paper on the strange coincidence of metafiction (form/technique) and deep-sea fauna (content/subject matter) in modernist novels by Virginia Woolf, Andre Gide and Aldous Huxley, as well as more recent fiction by Nicole Brossard and Margaret Drabble.
I am also working on a new project on experimental narrative techniques in nonfiction both literary and “non-literary” (journalism, science, history, etc). Yet another project investigates how “the unnatural nature of science” (to quote the biologist Lewis Wolpert) compels scientists to experiment with new ways of describing and narrating natural processes–and how the resulting scientific narratives can be used to improve science communication and outreach.
Before studying literature, I did graduate research in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on the relationship between plants and bumble bees that rob their nectar without providing any pollination service. I’m convinced that working with such a highly variable, context-dependent ecological system has informed how I read fiction, particularly modernist fiction.
Authors whose works I study include E. M. Forster, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Vladimir Nabokov, Edna O’Brien, Samuel Beckett, Salman Rushdie, David Lodge, Ali Smith and Zadie Smith.
Students often ask me about my favourite authors. It’s a long list, but in addition to names above, it includes Claire-Louise Bennett, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rachel Cusk, Flann O’Brien, Raymond Queneau, Jean Rhys, Muriel Spark, and W. H. Yeats. Standout reads of the recent past are (in alphabetical order) Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, Laurent Binet’s HHhH, Claire-Louise Bennett’s Pond, Malcolm Bradbury’s The History Man and Cuts, Anna Burns’ Milkman, Rachel Cusk’s trilogy (Outline, Transit and Kudos), Rana Dasgupta’s Solo, B. S. Johnson’s Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry, Ann Quin’s Berg, Jean Rhys’s Smile Please, and David Szalay’s All that Man Is.