Maurice S. Lee, Professor of English at Boston University, is fascinated by the limits of knowledge and how we live with and act under conditions of uncertainty. His scholarship focuses on 19th-century American literature and includes Slavery, Philosophy, and American Literature, 1830–1860 (Cambridge University Press, 2005), Uncertain Chances: Science, Skepticism, and Belief in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Oxford University Press, 2012), and the edited collection The Cambridge Companion to Frederick Douglass (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
Lee is currently studying the relationship between 19th-century literature and the period’s information revolution, which entailed struggles to manage an unprecedented proliferation of print and data through statistics, bureaucracy, empirical science, and bibliographic technology. Such practices shaped 19th-century literature and condition current humanist responses to our digital age.
Lee earned a BA in American studies from Stanford University and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, in English. He has held an ACLS Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship and received awards from the Melville Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Poe Studies Association. In 2012, Uncertain Chances was named an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice. During his year at the Radcliffe Institute, Lee is taking a hiatus from chairing the Department of English at Boston University.