My research and senior teaching explore the varied, contentious, and often zany literature of ?the long eighteenth century," the period from the heyday of John Dryden and Aphra Behn to that of Jane Austen.
I am especially interested in fiction in English from the writings of Jonathan Swift, Eliza Haywood, and their contemporary, Daniel Defoe, to the novels of Laurence Sterne, Frances Burney, and Jane Austen. In the emerging marketplace for fiction, self-consciously learned (and masculine) authors like Swift, Henry Fielding, and Sterne jostle for readers in competition with upstarts like Delarivier Manley, Defoe, and Haywood, who develop enduring literary and commercial strategies. Haywood is the first English writer to win literary fame as a novelist. Other writers established themselves on the stage or in journalism. Since the novel emerges from a morass of political polemic--Swift, Defoe, and Manley were paid propagandists--I found myself writing a political biography of Jonathan Swift-satirist, English government propagandist, opposition spokesman for an emergent Anglo-Irish nationalism, and author of a pair of influential anti-novels, A Tale of a Tub (1704) and Gulliver's Travels (1709). In my teaching, I try to address as diverse a community of writers and students as possible, communicating something of the energy, the wit, and the odd (post)modernity of Restoration and eighteenth-century writing.