Having spent much of my life studying literature, practicing and studying journalism, and teaching and conducting academic research, I have a special interest in the pursuit and communication of truth. This interest is behind many of my books, articles, and presentations for both academic and general audiences, most recently the textbook Introduction to Information Literacy for Students, the article "Henry David Thoreau's views of 19-century media resonate today," the radio segment "The Danger of 'Fake News,'" and the website Detecting Truth. I also have written, edited, and presented work on Edgar Allan Poe's creative process, Thomas Wolfe's life and final western journey, various aspects of pedagogy, and other subjects.
My most recent book is Thomas Wolfe Remembered, a collection of reminiscences written by friends, colleagues, classmates, family members, and others who knew the American novelist Thomas Wolfe, author of Look Homeward, Angel and other novels. My co-editor, Nami Montgomery, and I have located, edited, and annotated more than 40 of these reminiscences, including some that have not been published until now. Some of the reminiscences, published in part or in their entirety, include a recollection of Wolfe's childhood by his mother, an account of Wolfe's writing process by typist Alladine Bell, part of Marjorie Fairbanks's draft of a biography of her friend, and numerous other essays by teacher Margaret Roberts, editors Maxwell Perkins and Edward Aswell, agent Elizabeth Nowell, and others.
Drawing on our experience teaching information literacy together for many years, librarian Michael Alewine and I collaborated on Introduction to Information Literacy for Students (Wiley, 2017). This textbook provides an accessible discussion of information literacy, reviews basic strategies for finding and evaluating information in both print and electronic resources, and offers practical tips for selecting topics, managing research projects, developing key words, navigating databases, using an index, taking notes on sources, incorporating source material into a report, and more. We believe the book will work well as the main textbook for courses in information literacy or as a resource for college or high school students in writing-in-the discipline and other composition courses.
I have worked extensively on the intersections of literature and journalism, two means of pursuing and communicating truth. My first book, Literature and Journalism in Antebellum America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), examines print culture in the United States between 1833 and 1861, when the simultaneous rise of the mainstream press and the advent of the American Renaissance combined to create a sibling rivalry in American letters. As part of this competition, authors excoriated and ridiculed journalism, defended their own versions of the truth, and crafted “news of their own” in works such as Walden and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In this study, I draw on writings by Poe, Thoreau, Cooper, Dickinson, and other writers, as well as the work of David Reynolds, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, and others.
I have explored the intersections of literature and journalism in other projects, including my second book, Literature and Journalism: Inspirations, Intersections, and Inventions from Ben Franklin to Stephen Colbert (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), which features essays by David Reynolds, Andie Tucher, Carla Mulford, and others, along with my historical overview. Related projects include “Stories of Today: Rebecca Harding Davis’s Investigative Fiction” (Journalism History, 2012), “The Critique of Journalism in Sister Carrie” (American Literary Realism, 2010), "Henry David Thoreau's views of 19-century media resonate today" (The Conversation, 2017), and "The Danger of 'Fake News'" (The Academic Minute, 2017).
Much of my recent work has focused on American novelist Thomas Wolfe. Thomas Wolfe Remembered (University of Alabama Press, 2018), which I co-edited with Nami Montgomery, is a collection of reminiscences by Wolfe's friends, colleagues, and other acquaintances. It will, I hope, make a useful companion to the 2016 film Genius, featuring Jude Law and Colin Firth. My work on Wolfe also includes Out of the West (Thomas Wolfe Society, 2014), which features a transcription of notes Wolfe took on his final Western journey, and a number of articles on Wolfe and his work for The Thomas Wolfe Review and the popular media. As vice president and president of the Thomas Wolfe Society, I have been involved in the planning of our annual meetings in Asheville, Indianapolis, and other cities.
I also have written a number of articles on Edgar Allan Poe. Details of Poe’s life and work—including his fascination with music, dreams, and the “Imp of the Perverse”—suggest that he possessed an extraordinary right cerebral hemisphere. By exploring these details in light of both current and nineteenth-century models of the divided brain, I have tried to expose the process by which Poe used his unusual brain and his knowledge of phrenology to produce works unique in their visual imagery, musicality, surreal details, emotional appeals, and potent effect on readers. Two of my articles on the subject, “The Right Brain in Poe’s Creative Process” and “Flight into Fancy: Poe’s Discovery of the Right Brain,” have appeared in The Southern Quarterly and The Southern Literary Journal. I also have co-written "What's Behind Our Appetite for Self-Destruction?" for The Conversation.
Other American authors--including Rebecca Harding Davis and Benjamin Franklin--have figured prominently in my scholarship, as well. Two essays I have written on Davis have appeared in the journals Journalism History and Southern Cultures. I also have published an essay on Franklin in the Student’s Encyclopedia of Great American Writers (Facts on File, 2010) and an essay on the literature of the eighteenth century for a volume of American Centuries: The Ideas, Issues, and Trends that Made U.S. History (MTM/Facts on File, 2011).
Outside these areas, my scholarship has ranged over topics in the fields of literature, history, and pedagogy. I have published work on the novelist Vardis Fisher, for example, and I have given presentations on H.L. Mencken, the Scopes Trial, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and student success. My essay on syllabus design appeared in From Entitlement to Enlightenment (Jossey-Bass, 2013). Some of this work has taken me outside academia to address general audiences. My presentations on Mencken and the Lewis and Clark expedition, for instance, were part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Adventures in Ideas series, an enrichment program that promotes lifelong learning. I also have addressed teachers as part of a seminar called “Darwin and the South,” sponsored by the Center for the Study of the American South, and I have been a guest on the public radio programs No Limits and The State of Things.
Thomas Wolfe Remembered (with Nami Montgomery), Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2018.
Introduction to Information Literacy for Students (with Michael Alewine), Malden: MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017.
Out of the West, Thomas Wolfe Society, 2014.
Literature and Journalism: Inspirations, Intersections, and Inventions from Ben Franklin to Stephen Colbert, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
Literature and Journalism in Antebellum America, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Selected Scholarly Articles
"Learning to Scribble with Benjamin Franklin," a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 34.2 (2019): 345-354.
“Mind Over Chatter: Bias Mitigation for College Students” (with Paul Cook, Polly Boruff-Jones, and Christina Downey). Curbing the Spread of Misinformation: Insights, Innovations, and Interpretations from the Misinformation Solutions Forum (December 2018): 2-4.
"Teaching Linguistics Through Lexicography," American Speech 93.2 (May 2018): 311-323.
"The Go-to Faculty: An Extra Resource for Student Success" (with Meredith Storms), Building Bridges for Student Success, Norman, Oklahoma: Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange, 2016.
"Putting Wolfe in His Place (and Yours)," The Thomas Wolfe Review 39.1-2 (2015).
"Thomas Wolfe Comes Calling: An Imagined Visit with Vardis Fisher," The Thomas Wolfe Review 37 (2013): 119-135.
“The Syllabus: A Place to Engage Students’ Egos,” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 135 (Fall 2013): 37-42.
“Rebecca Harding Davis’s Human Stories of the Civil War,” Southern Cultures 19 (Fall 2013): 57-71.
“Thomas Wolfe, ‘Return,’ and the Asheville Citizen,” The Thomas Wolfe Review 36 (2012): 23-36.
“The Polar Regions,” Poe in Context, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
“Stories of Today: Rebecca Harding Davis’s Investigative Fiction,” Journalism History 38 (Summer 2012), 63-73.
“Literature.” American Centuries. Vol. 3. Ed. Brendan McConville. MTM/Facts on File, 2011.
“The Critique of Journalism in Sister Carrie,” American Literary Realism 42 (Spring 2010): 227-242.
“Benjamin Franklin.” Student’s Encyclopedia of Great American Writers. New York: Facts on File, 2010.
“News of Her Own: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Investigative Fiction,” Ignatius critical edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Fort Collins, Colorado: Ignatius, 2009.
“Edgar Allan Poe,” Southern Writers: A New Biographical Dictionary, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006.
“The Paperboy Turned Novelist: Thomas Wolfe and Journalism,” The Thomas Wolfe Review 27 (Winter-Spring 2003): 70-78.
“Assessing E-folios in the Online Class,” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 91 (September 2002): 69-75.
“The Internet in Service-Learning,” New Directions for Higher Education 114 (Summer 2001): 45-50.
“Flight into Fancy: Poe's Discovery of the Right Brain,” The Southern Literary Journal 33 (Spring 2001): 62-79.
“The Short Story, Beginnings to 1900” and “Sheriff,” The Companion to Southern Literature, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001.
“Students As Seekers in On-line Courses,” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 84 (Winter 2000): 35-40.
“Vardis Fisher: An Essay in Bibliography,” Rediscovering Vardis Fisher: Centennial Essays, Moscow: University of Idaho Press, 2000.
“The Right Brain in Poe's Creative Process,” The Southern Quarterly 36 (Summer 1998): 96-105.
Articles for Popular and Trade Media
"What's Behind Our Appetite for Self-Destruction?" The Conversation, 8 January 2019.
"Re-Imagining the First Year on Campus: A Closer Look at Indiana University Kokomo and the University of Wisconsin La Crosse" (with Jo Arney and Timothy Dale), Change (July 2018).
"How the Provost Can Help Students Succeed," The Chronicle of Higher Education, 8 August 2017.
"Henry David Thoreau's Views on 19-century Media Resonate Today," The Conversation, 1 August 2017.
"IU Kokomo Uses Research to Re-imagine the First Year of College," Kokomo Tribune, 30 March 2017.
"IU Kokomo Crafts 'KEY' to Success for Students," Kokomo Tribune, 6 September 2016.
"Can Jude Law's 'Genius' Capture the Essence of Thomas Wolfe?" The Conversation, 10 June 2016.
“Edgar Allan Poe: A Great Writer--and Decent Human Being," Kokomo Tribune, 7 October 2015.
"The Danger of 'Fake News,'" The Academic Minute, August 2017.
"'Uncle Tom's Cabin' . . . has suburban D.C. roots," McClatchy, 23 February 2015.
Contributing Editor, The Thomas Wolfe Review, 2013-present
Editorial Board, Edgar Allan Poe Review, 2010-2012