Ph.D. the Johns Hopkins University, 1985
My work ranges across a number of topics and styles, from scholarship in early American literature and print culture, to more theoretical writing about publics and social movements, to introductory editions and anthologies, to journalism and nonacademic political writing. In connection with my work on print and the history of reading, I have been interested in several other disciplines, on topics such as new media, intellectual property. One common thread across these fields is the way different social worlds are built up out of different circulating media and ways of reading or hearing. At present I am working on a study of secularism. It is partly a reflection on the dilemmas of secularism in the present; but that reflection is framed by a study of secular culture in America in the period before it was called secularism (roughly from the early eighteenth century to the Civil War). This interest has led to two books currently in the works: one, a collection of essays coedited with Craig Calhoun and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, is to be published by Harvard University Press in 2010 under the title Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age; it is a response to A Secular Age, by the philosopher Charles Taylor. The other, to be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, is based in the Rosenbach lectures I gave in the spring of 2009; it is to be titled The Evangelical Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America.
- Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age (Harvard University Press, 2010).
- The Portable Walt Whitman (New York: Penguin, 2003).
- Publics and Counterpublics (Cambridge: Zone Books, 2002).
- American Sermons (New York: Library of America, 1999).
- The English Literatures of America (Routledge, 1997). With Myra Jehlen
- Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993).
- The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990).
- “Tongues Untied: Memoirs of a Pentecostal Boyhood” Curiouser (2004) 215-224.
- “What Like a Bullet Can Undeceive?” Public Culture, vol. 15, no. 1 (Winter 2003) 41-54.
- “Irving’s Posterity,” ELH 67 (2000) 773-799.
- “Whitman Drunk” from Publics and Counterpublics
- “Uncritical Reading” from Polemic Critical or Uncritical
Colonial Literatures of America; Introduction to the Study of American Literature; Colonial Literatures of America