I am Assistant Professor of Writing at the University of Rochester. I received my PhD in history at the University of Rochester. As a trained historian and an experienced writing instructor, my sense of history, culture, and writing is informed by a sense of place. I believe that place is an important aspect of identity, an idea that has informed both my research and teaching. I have benefited from living in and studying the makeups of local communities. From rural Pennsylvania to post-industrial Rochester, New York and my own scholarship on nineteenth-century San Francisco, I find inspiration in the unique histories and cultures in the diverse towns, cities, and regions of the United States. My research revolves around several questions: How are local and regional identities formed? Are there conflicts regarding these conceptions of identity? What role does the region play in the national culture? These questions form the backbone of my scholarship. Ultimately, I am interested in the many ways in which ideas and identities are developed, debated, and disseminated at the local and regional level.

Broadly speaking, my research explores the intersections of culture, identity, and print media in nineteenth-century America. My current book project, titled “Imagining the Golden State: Print Culture and Literary Identity in Nineteenth-Century California,” examines the ways in which literary texts functioned in post-gold rush San Francisco and how the makeup of the city’s print culture contributed to the public conversations surrounding the state’s literary identity. I recover the many ways in which authors, editors, and readers thought about and confronted the prospect of an emerging regional literature in nineteenth-century California, a period I define as being situated between the discovery of gold in 1848 to the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Rather than providing an exhaustive history of nineteenth-century California literature, I examine moments of discursive engagement with the idea of “California literature,” which took the form of both public debate and private trials of cultural production. Accordingly, my dissertation considers a series of encounters between early Californians and the literature they produced, circulated, and read, with the understanding that this literature was not a clearly defined cultural project but rather a contentious site of competing ideas and assumptions about emerging notions of identity, power, and authentic at the regional level. I have received generous support to pursue and present my research from the Nineteenth Century Studies Association, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, and the Writing, Speaking, & Argument Program and the Department of History at the University of Rochester.

If you would like to contact me, feel free to email me at astauff2@ur.rochester.edu. You can also see more information about my research, teaching, and professional experience by viewing my CV here.