Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

"Landscape Metaphysics: Narrative Architecture and the Focalization of the Environment." Forthcoming in a special issue on ecocriticism and narratology set to appear in English Studies in early 2018.

Abstract: In this article I place landscape at the crossroads of narrative theory and ecocriticism. In particular, I argue that landscape description has an ekphrastic status in narrative that goes beyond simply “setting the scene” within which a story plays out. Instead, I suggest that landscape is the peculiar way in which narrative description focalizes the mere fact of setting into a total context of meaning—a virtual world organized around a particular subject. I therefore claim that landscape description may play a more complex role in a narrative than narrative scholars and ecocritics currently recognize, as the former tend to subordinate spatial concerns to temporal ones, while the latter tend to extol the virtues of place-based description rather than belabor the limits of representation. 

"Regionalizing the Planet: Horizons of the Introverted Novel at World Literature's End." PMLA, vol. 131, no. 5, October 2016, pp. 1299–1315.

Abstract: “World literature” will always fail because there is no such thing as the world. I draw on speculative realism to elaborate how all formations of a single world literature stem from problematic world concepts (particularly “the globe”) that write certain literary traditions out of the world. Using Gayatri Spivak’s concept of the planetary, I move toward a mode of reading that attends to how individual texts regionalize the planet vis-à-vis their own centers of production. Instead of imagining a single world sectioned into center and periphery, this method recognizes that, far from dwelling on their own marginalization within the global economy, all localities (and literatures) posit themselves as center and regionalize outward from this center. Reading for regionalization pluralizes the possibilities of literary worlding. This practice requires us to understand and to honor the formal character of introversion, which I theorize through the case of the Swahili novel.

"Revolutionary Temporality and Modernist Politics of Form: Reading Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o Reading Joseph Conrad." Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 38, no. 3, Spring 2015, pp. 38–55.

Abstract: This article challenges received wisdom regarding the politics of intertextuality between Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat and the novel it rewrites, Joseph Conrad’s Under Western Eyes. Instead of reading strictly for their “political” themes of betrayal and disenchantment, as most critics have done, I develop a politics of form by examining the novels’ formal rendering of what I call the “temporality of revolution”: a contradictory flux that ejects the subject from a stable experience of time. I demonstrate how Ngũgĩ’s re-reading of Conradian modernism takes a more radical position that pluralizes narrative structure, shifting the locus of revolutionary crisis from private, individual experience to the public domain.

Book Reviews

Review of The Swahili Novel: Challenging the Idea of "Minor Literature" by Xavier Garnier, translated by Rémi Tchokothe Armand and Frances Kennett. Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, vol. 3, no. 3, Sept. 2016, pp. 402–404.