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The Death of Things is the first comprehensive study to address the role that ephemera—objects marked by their imminent disappearance or destruction—play in 20th century fiction. The disappearing object, so definitive of post-industrial culture, is central in literature seeking to represent the experience of perpetual change and loss. Attention to these objects animates my project, which takes its cue from recent work done under the rubric of “thing theory.” If objects have lives of their own, what happens when they die? From the paper-mâché palaces of World’s Fairs to the abraded edges of postage stamps, disappearing objects intrigue writers like Don DeLillo, Ralph Ellison, and Marilynne Robinson, elegists of the waning promises of American modernity. In my account, post-45 U.S. fiction responds to the vanishing object-world in ways that are both melancholic and transformative. Bringing material culture studies into dialogue with psychoanalytic theory, I argue that literary portraits of our vanishing stuff never allow us to let go of or to fully possess our belongings. My book was reviewed by Sophie Haigney in The Nation and given honorable mention for the Modernist Studies Association's First Book Prize.

Modelwork: The Material Culture of Making and Knowing. With Martin Brückner and Sandy Isenstadt, Eds. (University of Minnesota Press, 2021).

With entries on Sensing, Knowing, Making, and Doing, this volume makes clear that regardless of time period or physical media, modeling invokes particular registers of phenomenology and epistemology; as a facsimile of a thing or a process, it inevitably creates ways of sensing, knowing, and operating in the world. The volume points toward larger conceptual debates about the way in which models of the past as well as new digital ones—models within models—profoundly shape the world around us. Contributors include Johanna Drucker, Peter Galison, Lisa Gitelman, Annabel Wharton, and several others.

Obsolescence is fundamental to the experience of modernity, not simply one dimension of an economic system. The contributors to this book investigate obsolescence as a historical phenomenon, an aesthetic practice, and an affective mode. This volume thus brings together essays from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives on the topic of obsolescence. Contributors include Bill Brown, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, John Durham Peters, Susan Strasser, William Urrichio and several others.


"Critical Darlings, Critical Dogs: Joseph O’Neill and What Contemporary Criticism Doesn’t Want." Forthcoming in American Literary History.

“Representation.” In The Cambridge University Press Handbook of Material Culture Studies. Eds. Lu Ann De Cunzo and Catherine Dann Roeber. Forthcoming in 2022.

"Cloud Reading with John Durham Peters' The Marvelous Clouds." In Culture ^2: Theorizing Theory. Eds. Frank Kelleter and Alexander Starre. Transcript Verlag, 2022. 

“Ralph Ellison, Chester Himes and The Persistence of Urban Forms.” PMLA 135.3, May 2020. (Winner of the 2020 William Riley Parker Prize)

"Books in Conversation, Dan Sinykin and Sarah Wasserman." ASAP, December 2020.

“Thing Theory.” Oxford University Press Online Bibliographies, July 2020.

“Multiplayer Lit/Multiplayer Crit.” Contemporaries at Post45. September 2019.

“How We Write (Well).” Editor and contributor to a forum on Contemporaries at Post45. January 2019.

“The Contemporary: A State of the Field Essay.” Co-authored with Emily Hyde. Literature Compass. September 2017.

“‘And things were looking like a movie’: Suburban Chic and the 1980s.” In On StyleCollected Essays. Eds. Jasmin Dücker, Olga Tarapata, and Eleana Vaja. Routledge, 2019.

“Spaß mit der Future-Past: Coney Island und die Obsoleszenz.” In Obsoleszenz: Kulturelle Figurationen des (Nicht-mehr-)Besonderen. Eds. Dietrich Boschung and Günter Blamberger. Fink Verlag, Winter 2019.

“The Menace of the New: Mourning ‘The World of Tomorrow’ at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.” New York, New York: Urban Spaces, Dreamscapes, Contested Territories. Ed. Sabine Sielke. Peter Lang, 2016.

“Introduction” to Cultures of Obsolescence: History, Materiality and the Digital Age. With Babette B. Tischleder. Palgrave MacMillan, 2015.

“Looking Away from 9/11: The Optics of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland.” Contemporary Literature (Summer 2014, Volume 55, Number 2): 249-269.

“Ephemeral Gods and Billboard Saints: Don DeLillo’s Underworld and Urban Apparitions.”Journal of American Studies (Fall 2014, Volume 48, Number 4): 1041-1067.

“No Place Like Home: 9/11 Nostalgia and Spike Lee’s 25th Hour” REAL: Research in English and American Literature, Vol. 27. Series Eds. Winifried Fluck and Donald Pease. Tuebingen: Narr Verlag, 2011.

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