Primary Instructor (University of Michigan)
Welcome! In this course you will have the opportunity to refine your writing skills while pursuing a research topic of your own interest. Throughout the semester we will focus on specific parts of the writing process and dive deeply into the craft of written communication. The course will also hone your critical thinking and reading skills. Before signing up for this course, you should know a few details. This class is about writing and academic inquiry. After learning a few “tools” in the first unit, such as close reading, you will be able to choose a “theme” to guide your next assignments. The second essay, an analysis of rhetoric within a particular community will feed into a larger research paper. For your “research,” you can do fieldwork in the form of interviews and surveys, or you can work from textual sources. Or both! The options are… maybe not endless, but they are abundant. You will have the option of writing a creative piece for the final assignment, which will repurpose one of the first three essays.
If you are curious to know what we’ll be reading, proceed to (A).
If not, go to (B).
If this seems intimidating, go to (C).
If you feel ready to commit, proceed to (D).
(A) Together we will read material that will stimulate discussion about writing strategies in many genres, voices, and mediums.
If you like short stories, go to (E).
If you like articles, go to (F).
If you like film, go to (G).
If you love “Choose your own adventure” stories, go to (H).
If you have other interests, go to (I).
(B) Are you sure? This course allows YOU to choose the direction of the course, focusing the last three writing assignments around a topic of YOUR choice! In accordance with the “follow your heart” philosophy, we will work together on writing essays based on YOUR interests.
If you want to hear more, go to (A).
If this still doesn’t sound appealing, return to the course description list.
(C) Don’t worry. This course is designed to show you the basics as well as allow growth and revision. We’ll do a lot of workshopping and smaller assignments leading up to the major essays. Editing and revision are a major part of this course so no matter what level you’re at, your writing will improve throughout our adventure. I will work closely with you to help select materials that fit with your interests. If you feel ready to commit, go to (D).
If this doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, go to (A).
(D) Wonderful! I look forward to meeting you in January and embarking on this exciting writing adventure together. If you have any questions regarding this course, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(E) Great! We’ll read and work with this. Proceed to (D)
(F) Great! We’ll read and work with this. Proceed to (D)
(G) Great! You’ll have the option to work this. Proceed to (D)
(H) Great! I should be up front that “Choose your own adventure” novels aren’t a part of the shared syllabus BUT you’ll have the option to work with them for your paper projects. Proceed to (D).
(I) Great! The beauty of choosing your own writing adventure is that YOU can choose the topics and material you want to focus on in your essays. The “theme” for this course is what YOU make it. Proceed to (D)
What is this place we inhabit “nine-to-five,” the space within which we create careers, form social networks, and, in lucky cases, pursue our passions? What is it about space devoted to labor that creates a particular atmosphere? How does this shape and how is it shaped by the surrounding culture? In this course we will trace the evolution of literature that focuses on workplace dynamics. We will begin with a guild of sixteenth century shoemakers in London and end with a twenty-first century paper supply company in Scranton, PA. Readings across genre by authors such as Dekker, Melville, Miller, and Werz will take us through workshops, mills, factories, and the office. We will think across genres by using drama, poetry, short stories, graphic novels, and television. Along the way, we will consider issues such as social mobility, community, class, gender, disability, and the American Dream. This course will develop critical thinking and reading skills as we encounter writing and consider carefully our own writing. In this course, you will learn to create complex, analytic, well-supported arguments that matter in academic contexts. We will spend a significant amount of time discussing technique and strategy and work toward refining our own craftsmanship. We will create our own workspace within which you will work closely with your peers and instructor to develop essays through workshops and extensive revision and editing. The specific questions that you will pursue in your essays will be guided by your own interests.
Courses I have served as Graduate Student Instructor for (University of Michigan)
English Literature to 1660
I currently work as a tutor for the Writing Center at Henry Ford College, in Dearborn, MI. This work is part on a Mellon-funded grant to support the Transfer Bridges Program between Henry Ford College and the University of Michigan and is geared toward creating equitable access to writing support between UM and local community colleges.
I also teach courses through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which offers continuing education opportunities to the retirement community of Ann Arbor. Not only does this give me a chance to work with and teach a different demographic than the typical students at the University of Michigan, but it also allows me to carry the knowledge and practices of academia to the wider community. My Fall 2019 course, Reading ‘The Merchant of Venice’ in 2019 combines an embodied reading experience with class discussions to both study the play and think about how we can responsibly approach interact with its controversies and challenges in our current world. Past courses have included Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Falling in Love with Love Poetry.
What makes certain books “must reads,” certain writers “foundational”? What is the difference between “popular fiction” and “literature”? In answering these questions, this course challenges the assumptions behind canon formation by asking, what and who do these categories exclude? As we read a survey of literature from the medieval period to the present, we will interrogate what makes certain authors and certain texts central and what cultural and historical forces have kept other texts in the margins. Together we will explore a variety of texts from the medieval period to the present. We will read poetry, plays, short stories, and at least one novel. We will read canonical authors such as Shakespeare, highly awarded authors such as Salman Rushdie, as well work from Claudia Rankine, Sappho, and anonymous poets. Along the way, we will work to center women writers, writers of color, and LGBTQ writers. We will read English and American writers as well as some international texts in English and in translation.
This course aims to also provide introductory familiarity with some of the core skills in critical analysis such as close reading. We will practice paying attention to stylistic and formal elements while also considering the historical, social, and cultural context surrounding each text. Discussion and active participation will be expected. This course will be writing intensive, with weekly discussion posts, several short assignments, and two major essays. There will be the opportunity to submit creative work for at least one of the short assignments. This course provides familiarity with the texts, methods, and writing techniques that are foundational to the English Major, although students from all disciplines are welcome. The primary goal of the course is to develop reading and writing habits that will serve majors and non-majors alike.
In his eulogy on William Shakespeare, fellow poet Ben Johnson claimed that the bard was “not of an age, but for all time.” This has certainly held true: Shakespeare continues to be prominent in our classrooms, on our stages, in the literary canon, and in our culture. In fact, he may not have only been “of all time,” but “ahead of his time,” his universal themes are somehow more modern than their date of composition suggests. And yet, many of Shakespeare’s stories are not original but are adaptations of other texts.
Together, we will explore the ways in which Shakespeare is a “medieval author,” adapting and re-telling narratives from the Middle Ages. We will read four Shakespeare plays—Pericles, Two Noble Kinsmen, King Lear, Hamlet—as well as his poem Lucrece alongside Chaucer, Gower, and other medieval writers in order to better understand how Shakespeare engaged with his most immediate history. We will ask how Shakespeare adapted pre-existing narratives into new versions, and how his methods of adaptation change the stories being told. Along the way, we will contextualize Shakespeare’s text in his own age, as well as in the literary tradition. No previous experience with Middle English or Shakespeare is required—we will work together to develop familiarity and comfort reading older language. This course features a flexible assignment sequence with creative and performance-based options.
When we introduce ourselves to other literary scholars, we often primarily self-identify by time period. “I’m a modernist,” you might say, as an instinctual response to the ubiquitous “what do you work on?” This course thinks carefully about the traditional divisions within the field of literary studies into particular temporal eras. Where did these periods come from, we will ask, and what is at stake in our claiming them? How do other scholars resist traditional periodization, and why would they do so in the first place?
The majority of our reading will come from secondary literature. The first half of this course will be spent reading about theory and methodology about our relationship with the past as literary critics. In particular, we will consider controversial approaches to studying the past such as anachronistic and presentist reading practices. The second half of the class will focus on one traditional literary era each week as we evaluate the particular challenges to periodization held by each segment of history. Along the way, we will develop a working knowledge about what issues are unique to particular adjacent periods and what issues are endemic in our field as one that relies on periodization in its hiring practices, coursework, and scholarship. The goal of this class is for each student to emerge with a clear sense of how they wish to articulate their field of research, the major issues of working within a particular time period, and thoughtful justifications for the start and end dates of their research. Additionally, we will survey a variety of methodological approaches, both with the aim of interpreting scholarship and beginning to formulate your own methodology.
This course is designed with a flexible assignment sequence with digital and pedagogically focused options in addition to traditional genres such as the seminar paper.
Transparency is a key part of my pedagogical practice; as such, I am happy to share my interactive teaching portfolio. To request any further resources, information, or with any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me.