I am currently at work on a book project adapted from my dissertation, “Capital Entertainment: Stage Work and the Origins of the U.S. Creative Economy, 1843 – 1912,” which analyzes the transformation of commercial performance from a small-scale artisanal or folk practice into a staple product of global, export-oriented capitalism. Despite the glossy sheen of stardom that shapes our understanding of stage work, most performers were contingent staffers whose efforts—as the first pastime to become big business—generated exponential profits. Far from a niche interest or obscure curiosity, common understandings of stage work naturalized capitalism’s demands on all workers, even as it introduced prescient questions about talent, creativity, and individuality that persist today.
I’ve also written on banjo queens, Cultural Studies and the sound revolution of the 1920s, graduate labor organizing, and Maine politics. Offline, I published an award-winning article in the Journal of Maine History and a co-authored entry in Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States