My research and teaching focus on the novel from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, the history of gender and sexuality, and the relations of literature to the visual arts. As a teacher and critic, I am concerned with the way works of art both respond to and imaginatively transform their culture. I also enjoy writing on a variety of literary and other topics for a wider public in the London Review of Books and elsewhere. Among my recent books, Art of the Everyday (2007) concerns seventeenth-century Dutch painting as a model for literary realism and includes chapters on Balzac, George Eliot, Hardy, and Proust. Picture Titles: How and Why Western Paintings Acquired Their Names (2015) asks how the naming of pictures has shaped their reception from the Renaissance to the present day.
- “Henry James’s Portrait-Envy,” New Literary History 48 (2017): 309-35.
- “Who Owns the Art?” Yale Review 104: 3 (2015): 59-67. [Yale Review]
- Picture Titles: How and Why Western Paintings Acquired Their Names (Princeton University Press, 2015)
- Art of the Everyday: Dutch Painting and the Realist Novel (Princeton University Press, 2008, paperback ed., 2009)
- Harems of the Mind: Passages of Western Art and Literature (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000)
- Fictions of Modesty: Women and Courtship in the English Novel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991)
- ed., Sex, Politics, and Science in the Nineteenth-Century Novel (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986; paperback, 1990)
- The Death and Letters of Alice James, ed. with a biographical essay (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981; paperback, 1983; rpt. Boston: Exact Change Press, 1997)
- Language and Knowledge in the Late Novels of Henry James (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976; paperback, 1980)
Victorian Novel (lecture); Jane Austen; Henry James and the Movies; Virginia Woolf; European Literary Tradition
Clarissa and the Critics; Jane Austen and her Contemporaries; George Eliot and the Problem of Realism; Problems in Victorian Fiction; Dutch Painting and the Realist Novel; Hardy and his Contemporaries; Henry James, Novel Theory and Critical Practice, Novel Minds: The Representation of Consciousness from Austen to Woolf; Portraiture and Character from Hogarth to Woolf
Ph.D. English Language and Literature, Yale University, 1971
M.Phil. English Language and Literature, Yale University, 1970
B.A. English, with High Honors, Swarthmore College, 1967