I am the Associate Dean for Research and Partnerships in the College of Arts & Sciences and a Professor of English at the University of Nebraska. I am a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and Director of the Nebraska Literary Lab. In 2014, I took a 15 month leave of absence from the University and worked as Principal Research Scientist / Software Development Engineer in iBooks at Apple Inc. in Cupertino. Prior to Nebraska, I was, for eleven years, a Lecturer and “embedded” Academic Technology Specialist (ATS) in the Department of English at Stanford University. During that time I co-founded and directed the Stanford Literary Lab with Franco Moretti.
My research and teaching is focused on computational text analysis, specifically an approach that I call “macroanalysis.” My literary training was in Irish and Irish-American literature of the late 19th- and early 20th-century. I have published articles about Irish writers in Kansas, Montana, and California. Some years ago, I compiled a fairly comprehensive and searchable bibliography of Irish-American writers and their books. A small full text archive and searchable version of the bibliography was for many years hosted by the The Western Institute of Irish Studies, which I co-founded with former Irish Consul, Dónal Denham. I directed the Institute from its founding in 2004 to 2009.
In 2006-2007 I spent a year at the Stanford Humanities Center where I was “Research Scholar in the Digital Humanities.” During that time, I set up the “Beyond Search Workshop” which eventually morphed into the Literary Lab that I co-directed with Franco Moretti from 2010 to 2012.
Over the years I have taught courses and given seminars on text-encoding with TEI-XML, text analysis using php, and text-mining with my favorite programming language R. My non-literary work with technology has encompassed everything from systems administration and database design to web development and technical support.
Beyond these academic pursuits, I enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.
I grew up fly fishing Montana’s blue ribbon trout streams, especially the Yellowstone River in and around Livingston, Montana, but the most exciting day of fly fishing I’ve ever had was at Boca Paila Preserve in Mexico.
For years I was an avid rock climber
From 2003 – 2005 I played rugby with the Mission Rugby Football Club.
I have run a number of standard Marathons: including the Silicon Valley Marathon in 2002 (3:55) and again in 2007 (4:12) the inaugural 2010 Morgan Hill Marathon (03:54:06) and a whole bunch of trail marathons that I ran as training for ultra-races. The Silicon Valley Marathon (SVM) became a gateway drug that lead me to LSD (that’s Long Slow Distance or “ultra-running”). On August 6, 2006 I ran my first ultra marathon, the Skyline 50K in 5:54:46. On October 7, 2006 I ran the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile Race in 10:14:25 . . . as my friend Tim used to say about my skills as a drywall finisher, “he’s not very good but he sure is slow.” When I moved to Nebraska I found the summer humidity and lack of hills annoying, and I quit running for five years. I started up again in 2017 and ran the Lincoln Half Marathon in 2018 (1:58:21).