A B O U T
An internationalist and intellectual community builder, I have taught at institutions in the United States, Singapore, and China, and, as a faculty director of study abroad programs, in England and France. I am currently University Distinguished Professor and Professor of British Literature in the School of Foreign Languages at Henan University, where I also direct the Institute for the Study of English and American Literature.
I am a founder of the Society for Global Nineteenth-Century Studies, a geographically and disciplinarily diverse network of scholars who share an interest in the world’s connectedness between 1750 and 1914, and currently serve as its president. I am also editor of the Society's journal, Global Nineteenth-Century Studies, and co-editor of its book series, Studies in the Global Nineteenth Century, both of which are published by Liverpool University Press. In addition, I am a general editor of Cultural History and serve on the editorial boards of Victorian Popular Fictions and Humanities & Social Sciences Communications. I am a member of the International Editorial Advisory Committee of the South African Journal of Cultural History and serve as an editorial consultant to Meridian, which is published by the Global Studies Center at the Gulf University for Science and Technology.
My work is broadly concerned with the relationship between people and their environments. My most recent monograph, The Provincial Fiction of Mitford, Gaskell, and Eliot, offers a reconsideration of the literary category of provincialism and the genre of the village story.
In contemplating how intense feelings for place might be integrated into the Victorianist literary study of liberalism, it continues a line of inquiry opened in the last chapter of Victorian Liberalism and Material Culture. In this earlier, MLA Award-winning book, I explore the interaction between British liberal thinkers and their workplaces in order to show how John Stuart Mill’s, Matthew Arnold’s, John Morley’s, and Robert Browning’s commitments to liberalism were shaped by or manifested through the physical spaces in which they worked. In A Micro-History of Victorian Liberal Parenting: John Morley's "Discreet Indifference," I examine how living one’s life as a liberal, within the spaces of the home, extended to parenting. Some of my edited collections and reference works take up related issues, such as considering the role of nonhuman animals in human life and literary production (Victorian Pets and Poetry); documenting the social and cultural history of an iconic area of London (Encyclopedia of London's East End); and analyzing the linkages among body, clothing, and environment (Political and Sartorial Styles). My other interests include historical craft and experimental life writing (Methods of Knowing); television and seriality studies; and the scholarship of teaching and learning -- to which I have contributed a monograph, two edited collections (Victorian Culture and Experiential Learning; Making the Grade), and a variety of articles.
My work has been supported financially by a number of institutions, including the American Philosophical Society; the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina; the New York Public Library; and the California Institute of Technology Archives. I have been a visiting scholar at the Armstrong Browning Library, a visiting fellow at the National University of Singapore, and the Lynn Wood Neag Distinguished Visiting Professor of British Literature at the University of Connecticut. Between 2020 and 2023, I held a Henan Province-wide chair professorship for a three-year non-renewable term.
I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Advance HE) and hold elected fellowships in the Royal Society of Arts, the Royal Asiatic Society, and the Royal Historical Society.
In 2022-23, I served as co-chair of an international symposium on "The Global / Oceanic / Nineteenth Century"; organizer and program chair of the Society for Global Nineteenth-Century Studies World Congress on "Comparative Empire: Conflict, Competition, and Cooperation, 1750-1914"; and organizer and program chair of the International Society for Cultural History's 2023 conference. In 2023-2024, I will co-chair an international symposium on nineteenth-century global cities and urban worlds, in conjunction with TELEMMe (Temps, espaces, langages, Europe méridionale, Méditerranée) and the Institut de recherches asiatiques at Aix-Marseille University, Schuman campus. I am also organizer and program chair of the Society for Global Nineteenth-Century Studies' 2025 World Congress on "Translation, Transposition, and Travel in the Global Nineteenth Century" to be held in Kuwait.
Outside of academia, I am a principal of the Morrison Film Company, which specializes in the development, financing, packaging, and production of short theatrical films. The company's first film, Normal Rockwell, which I co-wrote, is in pre-production and slated to be released in 2024.