I think about my job as a teacher in terms of a range of social, cultural, political, ethical, and practical responsibilities. For most of my academic career I have focused on teaching students how to write and communicate effectively using the available methods and media of the twenty-first century, which are constantly evolving with increasing rapidity. As a writer of scholarship, syllabi, criticism, pop songs, poetry, and fiction (among other genres), my pedagogy emphasizes the primacy of the written word and argumentation while challenging students on a daily basis to speak intelligibly––and usually extemporaneously––about the texts and ideas that my courses invite them to encounter. In my research and artistic practice, I am inspired by a history of theories and aesthetics that often runs counter to conventional wisdom and values. My aims as a teacher are similarly motivated by a process of continual revaluation, and in my classrooms, I try to foster an environment of amicable and productive suspicion.
The courses I have taught in composition, rhetoric, American literature, culture, and media prioritize student discussion, critical reading, and writing in both traditional and digital, frequently multimodal, contexts. A course about The New Yorker required students to subscribe to the magazine, granting them access to the publication’s online archive, which stretches back to the first issue in 1925. Reading across decades and genres, my students became intimate with the magazine’s signature style and tone, which has remained unique and intact despite the disruptions of contemporary history and the widely varying perspectives and aesthetics of the writers whose bylines have appeared in its pages. One assignment asked students to report, write, and revise a “Talk of the Town” piece; they browsed the archive looking for examples, finding inspiration in essays by E.B. White, Jamaica Kincaid, and many others. Though some were apprehensive about the assignment’s mandate to go into “the field” and interview strangers, the genre’s privileging of “talk” alerted students to the importance of voice in any kind of good writing, and drew them towards a broader understanding of the relationship between oral and written communication and the process of translation from one to the other. Many of my students’ pieces were nothing short of triumphs, and several were selected for publication in The North Avenue Review, a campus literary magazine.
Teaching English at a STEM-oriented institution for the past two years has awakened my sensitivity to the role that my work plays in the contemporary world outside of the academy. This means that in addition to equipping my students with the tools they need to write and communicate effectively as scholars, engineers, workers, and citizens, I see it as my responsibility to educate students in and promote the appreciation of art, culture, ideas, and humanity, as my first-year writing courses are some of the last formal opportunities for such that most of my students will have. For this reason, I design courses as vehicles through which my students can observe, analyze, and critique the world around them. The course about punk rock that I am currently teaching was inspired by parallels I have observed between the current state of post-Obama international disquiet and the malaise of Watergate and the Vietnam War, which gave rise to punk in New York and London in the mid-1970s. In their ongoing consideration of an aesthetic and political philosophy that seems apolitical as frequently as it does unphilosophical, I remind my students to remain attuned to the truth value of the texts they consider––interviews, oral histories, memoirs, documentary films––training them in the practice of what Paul Ricoeur calls a “hermeneutics of suspicion” using the media of twenty-first-century communication: an annotated Google Map of William S. Burroughs’s Junky, or Spotify playlists designed to soundtrack Patti Smith’s Just Kids. With all media at hand, I encourage students to practice critique as a generative act, deploying it affirmatively to fight ignorance: advocating for knowledge, reason, empathy, justice, honesty, and truth.
Georgia Institute of Technology
English 1101: Failure (Fall 2015)
English 1101: Reality (Summer 2017)
English 1102: Literature on Drugs (Spring 2016)
English 1102: The New Yorker Magazine (Spring 2017)
English 1102: Punk (Honors Program, Fall 2017)
English 1102: The Beat Generation (Spring 2018)
Duke University Talent Identification Program
The Pen as Weapon: The Art of Satire (University of Georgia, Summer 2016)
University of Minnesota
English 3006W: Survey of American Literatures and Cultures 2 (Online, Spring 2014)
English 3005W: Survey of American Literatures and Cultures 1 (Online, Fall 2013)
English 3006W: Survey of American Literatures and Cultures 2 (Online, Summer 2013)
Writing Studies 1301: University Writing (Spring 2013)
Writing Studies 1301: University Writing (Fall 2012)
Writing Studies 1301: University Writing (Spring 2012)
Writing Studies 1301: University Writing (Fall 2011)