Research

As a literary historian of premodern gender, sexuality, and embodiment, the body is at the center of my research. I am interested in how social systems, ideologies, and institutions control and orient bodies and more specifically when texts explore alternate ways to be a body in the world. My research bridges medieval theories embodiment and ideologies of nature and "naturalness" with questions made possible by transgender studies, disability studies, queer temporalities, and critical race studies. Through the rubric of "nature," I consider medieval ideas of physics, both as a natural science and as an early discourse on animacy and somatechnology. 

 

My first monograph, Chronic Bodies: Trans Natures and Premodern Temporalities defines a premodern somatography, "body writing," across medieval medical, scientific, and literary discourses invested in the question of "nature." I consider the triangulation among nature, temporality, and (re)production to formulate a trans theology of embodiment. Instead of "finding" trans experience or identity in the past, my project thinks with "trans mechanics" - ways of interpreting experiences of transing gender (to use Jen Manion's formulation) in premodern literary imaginations. Please check out the page below for a full description of this project. My second project, tentatively titled Into the Hollow: Premodern Parts and (W)Holes, explores the ontology of medieval cavities and limbs. 

Most recently, I have been scouring local archives in New England to reconstruct the life of Jane E. Westover, a nineteenth-century barber in Connecticut known for wearing "men's clothing." This project speaks to my broader interest in trans history beyond the medieval world. 

Medieval Alchemical Rebis.jpg

Chronic Bodies: Trans Natures and Premodern Temporalities

Hellmouth.jpg

Into the Hollow: Premodern

Parts and (W)Holes

Barber shop interior, Mystic 1880-1910.j

The Gentle Expert:

Jane Westover, Barber of Connecticut