My research and teaching interests are profoundly interdisciplinary. In the courses I teach as well as in my writing, I investigate how literary genres such as autobiography, short fiction, and the novel intersect with, and mutually inform, scientific discourse, nutritionism, popular culture, or museums as sites of cultural performance.
I am a Caribbeanist by training, and a literary food studies scholar by vocation. My first book, Exhibiting Slavery, considers how postmodern Caribbean historical novels about slavery function as museums by curating artwork and other objects within their pages. I contend that the novels thematize the second-hand way through which we come to learn about history as a textual encounter with the past. I also argue that postmodernism’s penchant for excess becomes the means through which we acknowledge our own inability to imagine the commonplace physical and ideological violence of treating people like chattel. My second book, The Immigrant Kitchen, analyzes the life writing subgenre of the food memoir with recipes, to think through how the trauma of immigration is inherited down the generations. My overall contention is that the interactive relationship facilitated by the recipes is a manifestation of virtual hospitality, wherein the reader accepts the writer’s welcome to his/her domestic space by preparing the food s/he reads about in the memoir.
My current book project examines those moments when Americans of Caribbean descent address themselves to the American people to share the lessons of their immigrant upbringing. By presenting American citizenship as a gift, rather than something to be taken for granted, the writers, performers, politicians, and activists whose work I analyze all challenge their compatriots to renew their efforts of working towards a richer and more just version of the American Dream.
I am also working on two digital humanities project analyzing reader engagement with formal reading groups through GoodReads.com, and contrasting the claims I make about food memoirs with recipes with reader feedback on the same archive.