Prior to coming to the University of Alberta, I taught briefly at Tulane University in New Orleans and at Duke University in North Carolina, where I completed my graduate work. I earned a PhD in Romance Studies from Duke, focusing on French literature and culture, with a dissertation on Jesuit missionaries' efforts to describe the Indigenous cultures they encountered in early French America. I also earned a MA from Duke, and before that a BA in French and journalism from Gonzaga University in Washington State.
My off-campus interests include running, cooking, and reading campus novels.
In its most general terms, my work concerns French and Francophone Literature, Culture, and Folklore, with particular emphasis on the early modern period (16th -18th centuries) and contact between cultures.
I have a longstanding research interest in the writings of missionaries and other colonists in New France, especially in relation to the Indigenous cultures they encountered there. My book Masters and Students: Jesuit Mission Ethnography in Seventeenth-Century New France (McGill-Queen's UP, 2015) treats the famous Jesuit Relations (1632-1673) as the products of two simultaneous and overlapping missions, in which the Jesuit priests both extracted information from a distant and poorly understood place and attempted to furnish Europe’s religious knowledge to the inhabitants of that place. These two simultaneous missions—gathering information and also transmitting it—provide the framework that the book uses to reflect on the nature of Jesuit mission ethnography, as well as its relationship both to early modern travel narrative and to modern ethnohistory. My newest major work in this vein is The Jesuit Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix’s (1682–1761) Journal of a Voyage in North America: An Annotated Translation (Brill, 2019). I am now in the early stages of a new monograph project, a biography-of-the-book style treatment of the famous Jesuit Relations. This new project is supported by a SSHRC Insight Grant.
In the past several years, I have also begun to research how seventeenth-century France's rich literary traditions—particularly theatre—intersected with its colonial projects in what is today eastern and maritime Canada. I am interested both in performances of French plays in colonial Quebec and Acadia and in the ways in which France's efforts to colonize the New World may have influenced some of the period's best-known works of literature. I approach this subject from a point of view that is consonant with recent scholarship on the French Atlantic World, preferring to think of the relationship between France and Quebec as one of reciprocal influence between two distinct but related sites of French culture instead of adopting the more traditional vision of France with Paris as its one and only centre. My work in this field has appeared in well-respected journals like French Studies and French Forum, with more planned. Although my contributions in this area will be focused on article projects for the next several years, I expect that they will eventually culminate in a book.
For undergraduate students, I teach courses in French and Francophone literature and culture, mostly but not exclusively focusing on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I also teach folklore courses in both French and English.
For graduate students, I have supervised a wide range of research at both the MA and PhD levels, and welcome the opportunity to work with qualified and motivated graduate students in any of my research fields: North American Francophonie and folklore, early modern French literature and culture (16th-18th centuries), intercultural contact in the French Americas, and travel writing.