I started my career with an interest in the novel. I wrote my disseration at Columbia University’s Department of English and Comparative Literature with Edward Said and Steven Marcus as my directors. That work became my first book Factual Fictions: The Origins of the English Novel. Working with the then new methodology of Michel Foucault, I attempted a discursive analysis of the fields of fact and fiction in 18th century narrative. My argument was that the distinction between fact and fiction emerged from an earlier “news/novels” matrix that didn’t observe that distinction. The fact/fiction divide developed through the interaction of journalism and the law.
My second book was Resisting Novels: Fiction and Ideology, which explored the ideological nature of fiction not so much from the point of view of content but in the actual formal nature of the novel itself. The book covers the major areas of plot, character, dialogue, and location and shows how deeply ideological those conventions are, even if used by progressive writers.
Since then I’ve integrated some of my work on disability studies into the history and theory of the novel, most notably in “Who Put the the in The Novel? Identity Politics and Disability in Novel Studies”.
I’ve also written a fictional work entitled The Sonnets: A Novel which tells the story of a Columbia professor who teaches Shakespeare and who finds that his life begins to parallel the story behind the Bard’s Sonnets.