Professor of English at the University at Buffalo since 1988, where I teach twentieth- and twenty-first century literature. My research interests include transnational politics and the global novel, literature after 9/11, postmodern fiction and theory, the literature of migration, multimodality in literature, film adaptation of the novel, literature and science, modern poetry and poetics.
My book, Design & Debris: A Chaotics of Postmodern American Fiction, received the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature from the University of Alabama Press in 2002. Unending Design: The Forms of Postmodern Poetry was published by Cornell University Press in 1991 and released as an e-book in 2016. Book chapters, journal articles, and review essays on a wide range of contemporary literature and criticism have appeared in American Literature in Transition: 1990-2000 (Cambridge UP, 2017), Passage (Aarhus UP, Denmark), Twenty-First Century Literature (Seoul National University, South Korea), Modern Fiction Studies, Essays on Italian American Literature and Culture (Calandra Institute, 2012), Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, The Cambridge Companion to Don DeLillo (Cambridge UP, 2008), The Holodeck in the Garden: Science and Technology in Contemporary American Fiction (Dalkey Archive Press, 2004), the Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Poets Since World War II (editor and contributor, Gale Research Press), Sagetrieb, and The Review of Contemporary Fiction, among others.
I have been a SUNY Senior Fellow at the New York—St. Petersburg Institute of Linguistics, Cognition and Culture in St. Petersburg, Russia and Visiting Professor in Comparative Literature at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China. I have received a University at Buffalo Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellowship, a Lilly Foundation Teaching Fellowship, and a Whiting Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities.
In my forthcoming book from Routledge, Transnational Politics in the Post-9/11 Novel, I argue that literature after September 11, 2001 engages the multilateral complexity of transnational politics, issues that require adjudication across national, geographic, cultural, linguistic, religious, and ethnic borders. In the epoch of globalization, these are conflicts that are unlikely to be resolved without transversal deliberation among diverse peoples willing to set aside sectarian interests. The transition from a nation-state to a market-state order that occurs between the second Russian Revolution (1991) and the second Persian Gulf War (2003) finds its correspondent turn in literary political fiction. The post-9/11 novel figures its narratological crises in terms of transnational issues—most prominently globalization and terrorism, but also human rights, the rights of women and ethnic minorities, migration, and freedom of expression. While much of the criticism regarding novels of 9/11 tends to approach these works through trauma theory, I argue for the evolution of a post-9/11 novel that is neither limited to a parochial American perspective nor primarily engaged in the domesticated representations of catastrophe. Post-9/11 novels by DeLillo, Coetzee, Hamid, Pamuk, Pynchon, and Waldman refuse to seek comfort in the respectful cloak of mourning but instead recognize that, everything having been changed, only the formally inventive presentation will suffice to acknowledge the event’s unpresentability. This new political paradigm is both transnational and asymmetrical, as globalization and terrorism engage and resist one another. The relation is not one of bipolarity (the Cold War) but apolarity, a viral structure that produces its own counterapparatus. The post-9/11 novel presents itself as an act of terror that bursts the containment of the market state and the media of popular consent. It is through such novels, as Pamuk reminds us, that “we come to understand the ideas that govern the world in which we live.”