This web page is intended to be an electronic portfolio of the publications resulting from my scholarly work. As such, it allows one — myself included — a means to track what is often referred to as my “scholarly trajectory.” While each section’s introduction includes details not provided here, I want to take a brief moment to provide an overview of my work and its origins.
While Laurence Sterne’s title character in Tristram Shandy playfully or painfully notes, it is essentially impossible to pick a starting point in writing a biography, autobiography, or anything else. As a sort of academic autobiography, this supposedly brief statement is not exempted from this problem. To spare you, and I, from the perils of finding each event’s antecedent and thus never moving forward and never ending in the attempt to do so, let us agree that I will start describing my research path from some later point in graduate school.
As I note in my profile, my research and resulting publications are all connected by the interrelated themes of conservative politics, social/political movements, and law in America. My interests in law and movements have longer stories laden with specific reasons, while my interest in conservative politics arose somewhat by accident (though one is supposed to assert that it is more intentional than that). While it was a serendipitous discovery, my work’s focus on conservative politics probably provides it with its most distinguishing characteristic – both within the broader fields of research on law and movements, and for my own thinking about my work.
When I started researching abortion politics-related court cases, I was motivated by an interest in both free speech and political movements. Restated, abortion politics was the setting within which I could investigate these other interests, as opposed to being the focus of my work. My early articles looked at how differently situated activists mobilized law and how they addressed — if at all — the inconsistencies in their case-specific and general views of free speech and legal regulation.
The peer review and editing process of my 2011 article, “Sustaining the State,” however, allowed me to re-frame my research in a more theoretically satisfying manner captured in both that article and my first book, The Street Politics of Abortion. In brief, I moved from focusing on the internal dilemmas that activists could experience, to highlighting what their stories stood to tell us about law as a broad-based resource for movements. This also enabled me to think more about these movement actors specifically, accelerating the process of my finding a real interest in conservative movement politics, and more specifically, Christian conservative movement politics.
Researching and writing on abortion introduced me to the emergent conservative Christian legal movement. The lawyers that I interviewed represented both the old and the new in the American Christian Right. That is, they represented the periods both before and after the Christian Right came to realize the value of, and need for, lawyers. In looking at their professional profiles, at the institutions that they formerly and presently belonged to, and the stories of those institutions, I came to see that they collectively stood as living evidence of the “New Christian Right’s” increasing political capacity. In doing so, I recognized that this was an important and under-explored part of understanding contemporary American politics — both within and beyond the abortion conflict’s context.
My second book, The New States of Abortion Politics, best represents both my interests in abortion politics specifically, and this political conflict’s centrality to the development of the Christian Right’s legal resources. The emergent conservative Christian legal movement is also the centerpiece of my ongoing research project on the Christian Right’s efforts to specifically develop legal resources. As evidenced by my 2014 & 2017 articles, I am working on this new project with Prof. Amanda Hollis-Brusky (Pomona College). We have received funding for this project from the National Science Foundation, we have a new project-related article under review at an academic journal, and we hope to complete our co-authored book manuscript by the Winter of 2018-19.
Prof. Hollis-Brusky & I have also started co-authoring op-eds related to our ongoing research. I mention this in part to tie in the last section of this e-portfolio – my public media writing. These publications provide an ongoing way for me to both attempt to contribute to larger, contemporary political discussions, as well as to continue to see my research as relevant and coherent. Like teaching, and this (e)portfolio, it is a means to see how, while my scholarship has changed over time, it is also contiguous, interconnected, and thus establishing a discernible trajectory.