Did you have a favorite class or text in college? What made it your favorite?
When I first read Woolf's To the Lighthouse in college, its luminous prose put me into a state of euphoria. At every phase of my career since, I've found new things in this book, depending what my own intellectual interests are.
What would you have liked to tell the 20-year-old version of yourself about college?
College is not just a running test of your aptitude. If you can relax a little bit about doing everything perfectly, you'll have a better experience.
Did you go straight to graduate school after college?
What made you decide to specialize in your current subfield in English?
I was attracted to literary modernism because I've always liked texts that are so complex as to require a kind of decoding.
What is the most intriguing or quirky idea that you have learned from your recent research?
Human beings in groups behave much less intelligently than individuals on their own do.
What is your favorite work of literature to teach to undergraduates?
What do you like best about teaching college students at the University of Chicago?
The students here work really hard, are filled with intellectual curiosity, and want to hear one another talk and think. I feel very lucky to have spent my career teaching at this school.