Bio & Research

My research is in three areas. These include the philosophy of literature (with an emphasis on early modern English literature), the philosophy of theater, and animal-ethics. I try to turn both my teaching and research into forms of border-crossings, in which sensitivities and motivations of more than one academic discipline interlace. 

My most recent book Acts: Theater, Philosophy and the Performing Self (The University of Michigan Press) explored philosophical dimensions of dramatic acting. The book addressed self-dramatization, on the stage (or off it). The project included work on theatrical role-playing, discussing topics such as (click the link for an abstract/essay) repetitiondramaactingpuppetry, masochismvoiceanorexiapornography and the relationship between acting and ethics (the last essay has received an award from The Philosophical Quarterly). New work of mine in this domain includes an essay on giving focus in acting (under review), as well as a talk on actors and lawyers, delivered in a recent conference.  

The philosophy of literature takes up much of my research and teaching (I am a trained philosopher, teaching in literature departments). I continue to probe the relationship between Shakespeare and philosophy-- a direction I began outlining in my Double Vision: Moral Philosophy and Shakespearean Drama (Princeton, 2006). Such further work can be read in New Literary History, in a chapter in a collection entitled Shakespeare and Moral Agency, (Continuum Books, Ed. Michael Bristol), and in a chapter on Shakespeare and philosophical criticism in the Oxford Handbook of ShakespeareAnother essay, discussing the relationship between ethics and tragedy, has just appeared as part of the Oxford Handbook to Shakespearean Tragedy. I am also editing a collection of essays on Hamlet & philosophy, which is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Another, more general contribution to the philosophy of literature is an essay on comedy ("Why Does Comedy Give Pleasure?"). 

My most recent work within the philosophy of literature is devoted to Milton's Paradise Lost. Two essays have recently been published from this project, one in Milton Studies, the other in The Philosophy of Poetry, edited by John Gibson for Oxford University Press. A more comprehensive, book-length study of the poem entitled Ascent: Philosophy and Paradise Lost, will be published by Oxford University Press, hopefully during 2017. 

I am also interested in moral aspects of human-animal relations. My book Ethics and the Beast (Princeton, 2007) probed only ethical dimensions of this issue. I have since become interested by literary representation of animals. I regularly teach a seminar on this latter topic, and have contributed a chapter on the depiction of animals in literary works to the Oxford Handbook of Ethics and Animals. In a recent review (in the NDPR) I discuss the relationship between continental and Anglo-American philosophical work on animal ethics.