Research Projects

"Modern Chivalry: Materiality, Archival History, and the Nation" (working title)

My ongoing project studies the publication history and archival past of Hugh Henry Brackenridge's multi-volume work Modern Chivalry (1792-1815). The project analyzes the ways in which cultural and political experiences in Pennsylvania during the founding decades impacted on a shapeshifting media culture. Additionally, the project examines the larger discourse network of Modern Chivalry (its editorials, introductions to re-issues, and critical analyses) as it unfolds historically alongside modern democracy. I combine insights from the interpretation of material texts (for instance connections between print quality, the location of the printer, and American "westward expansion") with developments in the significance of printed text for the history of democracy in the United States, in order to make visible the relationship. between media history and a democratic organization of society. Additionally, I study the ways in which the archiving of literary and historical material and corresponding studies of archival resources shape our understanding of past political discourses, while both the archive and our conception of the politicized past are also always dependent on our present moment in history. 

Research Interests

  • Popular Culture
  • Seriality and Serialization
  • Film and Television Studies
  • Literary and Cultural Theories
  • Early American Studies and American Literature of the Early Republic
  • Media Archaeology 
  • Studies of the Archive
  • Democracy

Completed Projects

PhD Dissertation

"Operational Detection: Crime Serials and the American Cinema, 1910-1940"


The dissertation studies film serials as part of American popular culture before the marketing of home television. Between 1910 and the 1940s, film serials constituted an important part of American cinemas. Audiences returned week after week for the next "chapter" of a serial, from the Serial Queen Melodramas of the 1910s to the comic strip adaptations of the 1930s and 40s. Throughout these decades, a large number of serials were based on crime plots and the prosecution of a masked villain. Starting, arguably, with the French serial Fantômas and the American The Exploits of Elaine, both the detective and the villain relied on novel or made-up technologies. By means of these technologies, the film serials display their status within the booming context of new inventions that marked the second half of the nineteenth century and continued well into the 20th. Film serials not only reflect upon existing inventions, but they dream up alterations or entirely new mechanisms. Additionally, the serials themselves emerge as part of the comparatively new medium of serialized cinema, thus also bearing their own history as technological innovation. The study argues that these crime serials invite a certain type of audience, or a distinct mode of engaging with the serials. Instead of focusing on individual characters, this mode encourages audiences to consider the structure of the mechanisms displayed in the serials as well as the structure of the plot as mechanism. This mode of engagement reframes the 19th-century interest in how mechanisms function - an interest that Neil Harris addressed as "the operational aesthetic". In short, the study reframes Harris' concept as a receptive mode and moves it into the 20th century, with seriality as its predominant driving force.