At SUU, I teach general-education writing courses and upper-level literature courses in early American literature.
At UT Arlington, I taught sophomore literature, freshman composition, technical writing, and the communication-writing component of an introductory engineering course.
Arthur Heming, Canadian Pioneers (1931)
ENGL 2600: Intro to Critical Theory
Contrary to popular belief, English Studies is not a field in which anything goes. Far from it—being a literary scholar requires mastering a particular skill set and drawing on a common body of knowledge. This shared knowledge has less to do with what you read than with how you read and express your thoughts about that reading. Just as physicists have their lingo and economists have theirs, literary scholars have their own language, theories, methods, and conventions.
This course is designed to introduce English majors and potential majors to critical theory and how it can be applied to the study of literature. In this course we will study several influential schools of critical theory, learning how they developed in response to each other. We will also study a selection of the most recently published work in critical theory and theory-oriented literary criticism to give you a sense of how scholars and theorists are using critical theory today. You will practice applying the various critical theories to primary texts, both in class discussion and by writing papers through the lens of a specific theory. You will also learn to identify and employ the discursive conventions of literary scholarship as you practice reading challenging critical texts and doing research for your final paper, which requires entering into an ongoing conversation in the field. After completing this course, students will find their reading experience enriched by having learned the strategies for reading, thinking, and writing that make English Studies not a book club, but a profession.
ENGL 3210: American Literature I
A survey of American literature from its roots to the Civil War. Unlike a more traditional survey that moves through dozens of writers at a rapid pace, this course focuses on just ten writers (Anne Bradstreet, J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Hannah Webster Foster, Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Harriet Jacobs, and Walt Whitman). To fill in the inevitable gaps, students will research and present on additional significant pre-Civil War American writers. We will read a variety of texts and literary genres that touch on many of the important themes, identities, voices, and styles that make up American literature as we know it today. Readings will include both canonical and non-canonical works, as well as texts that might fall outside of traditional notions of what counts as “Literature.”
ENGL 4510: Early American Experiments
How did people in early America create and respond to literary texts? How do people in the 21st century engage with early American literature and culture? How do you as English majors study early American literature? This experimental class will encourage you to consider and participate in ways of thinking and engaging with early American texts that move beyond traditional academic practices. In other words, we won’t be following the expected class format of reading books, discussing them, and writing a final research essay. Instead, we will experiment with different ways of “doing literary studies” and explore how these experiments promote rigorous and meaningful ways of reading and thinking about literature.
Over the semester we will experiment in five broad areas, completing mini-projects in each area.You will then develop one of the mini-projects into a larger final project. These mini-projects include keeping commonplace books, participating in recitation and reading circles, reading and creating alternative forms of scholarship, engaging in living history and food history, and transcribing and encoding early American manuscripts and creating born-digital projects on early American literature. In addition to actually doing these projects, you will reflect on how these activities alter or change both the way you experience and analyze literature.
No prior experience or expertise in any of the project areas is required. You only need a willingness and curiosity to try new things!
ENGL 2010: Writing about Disney
What does Disney reveal about our culture, beliefs, and values? How does Disney influence and shape our lives? A cornerstone of many of our childhoods and a massive presence in popular culture, the Disney empire provides a broad spectrum of subjects for analysis and debate. In this class, we will critically examine and discuss all things Disney: films, parks, merchandise, fan culture, etc. Along with shorter papers and a group project, each student will complete a final argumentative research paper of at least 10 pages.
ENGL 2010: Writing About Animals
Non-human animals are woven into our daily existence as humans, even unwittingly, unknowingly, or involuntarily. They are companions, aides, food sources, objects of study and entertainment, pests, and inhabitants of your own bodies. How do we understand animals? How do we distinguish what is animal from what is human? How do these definitions and distinctions affect our lives and animals’ lives in both practical and ideological ways? This particular section of ENGL 2010 focuses on animals and the different lenses through which we can think about and write about animals. Along with reading and discussing texts that focus on different perspectives on animals, you will develop your own topic of interest involving animals and complete a multi-part semester-long assignment culminating in a 10-page argumentative research paper.
This course builds upon the skills learned in English 1010, reinforcing strategies that foster careful reasoning, argumentation, and rhetorical awareness of purpose, audience, and genre. The course emphasizes critically evaluating, effectively integrating, and properly documenting sources. The course involves several connected writing assignments that culminate in a major research project.
ENGL 3210: American Literature I
This course is a survey of American literature from its roots to the Civil War. We will be reading a variety of texts and literary genres that touch on many of the important themes, identities, voices, and styles that make up American literature as we know it today. Readings will include both canonical and non-canonical works, as well as texts that might fall outside of traditional notions of what counts as “Literature.”
ENGL 4110: Early American Novles
Many people today think of the novel as the pinnacle of literary achievement, as Literature with a capital L. It’s both a respected and popular genre, encompassing everything from critically acclaimed novels (the ones you hope to read someday, or pretend you already have) to so-called “trashy” or “guilty-pleasure” novels (the ones you buy on your Kindle so no one will see them on your bookshelf). In late 18th and early 19th America, the picture was a bit different; novels, while extremely popular, generated intense debate about the cultural and social impact these works of fiction would have on readers. Would novels teach early Americans how to be virtuous citizens of the new republic? or tempt them with salacious stories that would erode their morals?
This course will explore the genre of early American novels. What makes the early American novel unique and separate from its European contemporaries? How did novels help shape the attitudes and beliefs of a new nation? What features distinguish the novel from other kinds of literary productions of the period? How do early American novels speak to issues of sentimentality, colonialism, gender and racial politics, and conceptions of religion and science? In wrestling with these questions, we will read several early American novels, as well as other selected early American texts and literary criticism. This is a discussion-based and writing-intensive course in which students will help generate and facilitate discussion points and complete both short-weekly writings and a larger research paper.
ENGL 2309: World Literature: Liberty and Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century
The eighteenth century was a time of sweeping changes throughout the world: increased commerce and trade brought cultures into greater contact with each other, and political and intellectual revolutions raised questions about the perceived authority of monarchs and churches. Yet these moves towards democracy, social equality and religious freedom were not universally available to all. The eighteenth century was also plagued by slavery and persistent gender and economic inequalities. Throughout the semester we will read a variety of literary texts from around the world, looking at how different cultures and writers engaged with the ideas of liberty and enlightenment. What did liberty mean to them? How did liberty or its absence shape people’s thinking and actions?
ENGL 2329: American Literature - Exploring Beyond the Human
Exploration, travel, and discovery are crucial components of the landscape of American literature, from its ostensible beginnings with Europeans’ discovery of the New World to twenty-first century texts. This course focuses on one aspect of this rich tradition in American literature, the more-than-human world. How do exploration and travel narratives engage with the natural world and nonhuman animals? How do they represent nature, animals, and all that is not human? How do they impact our ideas about how we define the human and humanity? How does this influence or shape our ethical response and responsibility to humans, nonhumans, and the natural world? In focusing on the more-than-human world, we will explore how American literature of travel and exploration shapes understandings of individual identity, social/communal identity, race and ethnicity, and nature and the environment.
ENGL 2303: Strange Bodies: Race and Nature in Early American Literature
For early Americans, the body offered one of the primary means of experiencing and understanding nature. Yet, the body was also a point of vulnerability; many writers expressed fear that the American environment would alter, degrade, or corrupt their bodies and minds. Theories and beliefs about racial differences were also closely connected to these concerns about the body in nature. This course examines the connections between ideas about race and nature in early American literary texts. Central questions addressed in this course include: What role did bodies play in early American conceptions of race and nature? How did “natural” explanations of racial difference fit into constructions of early American identity? How did ideas about nature and climate influence early American thoughts on slavery? How did differences in race, ethnicity, gender, and nationality influence early American writings about race and nature? How are early American concerns with race and nature still relevant in today? How do early American writings about race and nature expand traditional assumptions about what counts as “literature”?
ENGL 2329: Islomania: Islands, Environment, and Biogeography
What is the appeal of islands? Why do they fascinate us? Islands are viewed alternately (or sometimes simultaneously) as exotic paradises, retreats from civilization, deserted locales, savage wastelands, havens for biological diversity and/or experimentation, and so on. As a particularly distinctive geographical feature, islands have captivated human attention and imagination. They are of great interest not only to writers, but also scientists and environmentalists. The isolation and insularity of islands magnifies numerous social, political, economic, scientific, and environmental issues. How have islands shaped our understandings of individual identity, social/communal identity, race and ethnicity, nature and the environment? How do we shape islands, and how do they shape us? This course focuses on works of American literature that center around islands. We will read texts from different time periods (18th century – present day) that cover a mix of science and nature writing, speculative and science fiction, as well as more traditional “literary” works, and, in doing so, question the distinction between these genres. The readings cover a variety of different island locations including Hawaii, the Caribbean, the Galapagos, and Newfoundland.