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LSU Today Flagship Faculty
What was your previous position and where?I have been at LSU my entire career, having come here in 1992 as a new assistant professor fresh out of my Ph.D. program at Rutgers University.
What brought you to LSU?The LSU English department has always had a stellar reputation. I was delighted to be offered a position among this internationally known faculty with strong research support, a dynamic intellectual community and the opportunity to work very rewardingly with both undergraduate and graduate students.
What is your research interest?I am a Victorianist. Once I actually had to assure an undergraduate that this label does not mean that I believe in something that could be called Victorianism or that I agitate for some sort of Victorian politics! I research and write about British literature and culture from the age of Queen Victoria, who lived in the 19th century, including authors such as Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Darwin, Christina Rossetti and others. I am also very interested in Victorian theater and current theatrical adaptations of Victorian literature and representations of Victorian culture.
What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?I want to help LSU's English department maintain its status as a top graduate program and a highly successful undergraduate program. As director of graduate studies in English, I'm working hard to ensure that we continue to recruit excellent MFA and Ph.D. students by offering nationally competitive funding and a nurturing intellectual and creative environment; that we continue to provide students not only an excellent advanced education but also solid support for conference travel and a strong culture of mentoring by graduate faculty; and that we continue to place our students in good jobs. I also hope to improve that record.
What do you enjoy most about LSU?People are what I enjoy most about LSU, both my colleagues and my students. The English department faculty percolates with intelligence, talent and hard work. I'm in a wonderful writing group that keeps me very active professionally. My students are smart, funny and mostly hard-working. I have a great time teaching, and I'm glad that I am at an institution that provides a sensible balance between teaching and research, so that each half of the job fertilizes the other.
What are your major accomplishments?I have published two books on the influential Victorian art and social critic John Ruskin, who so affected Gandhi as a young man that the Indian leader wrote in his autobiography that reading Ruskin changed his life. My most recent book is "Performing the Victorian: John Ruskin and Identity in Theater, Science, and Education" (Ohio State University Press, 2007). My earlier book is "Ruskin's Mythic Queen: Gender Subversion in Victorian Culture" (Ohio University Press, 1999). I have also published widely in scholarly journals on Victorian literature and culture. My current book project is on Victorian materials that have been adapted to the Broadway musical stage, such as "The King and I," "Oliver!" and "Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street." A fun fact about this is that I am interviewed as an expert on the special features disk of the 2008 DVD of Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd" on the source text.