Spring 2019

UNIV 200-097 | Inquiry and the Craft of Argument (Hybrid)
10:00–10:50 MWF | CRN 36476

UNIV 200-036 | Inquiry and the Craft of Argument (Service-Learning)
12:00–12:50 MWF | CRN 25161

UNIV 391-903 | Special Topics: Interdisciplinary Social Innovation
1:00–1:50 MWF | CRN 40467

UNIV 200–084 |Inquiry and the Craft of Argument (Hybrid)
2:00–2:50 MF | CRN 29079

Drop-in Office Hours, Spring 2020

UNIV 200-097: 10:00–10:50 W

UNIV 200-036: 12:00–12:50 W

UNIV 200-084: 2:00–2:50 W

UNIV 391-001: 11:00–11:50 F

5131 Harris Hall


UNIV 200
Each semester I teach several sections of UNIV 200, Inquiry and the Craft of Argument, to Sophomore-level undergraduates. (Since Fall 2014, in one section per semester, I integrate service-learning into the course, which you can read about here.) It is a cross-disciplinary research and writing process course designed to increase proficiency in critical reading, analysis, academic research, and argumentation. Students formulate an inquiry question that sustains weeks of intensive research and results in a 10- to 15-page research paper accompanied by a “translation” of their argument into a visual medium (e.g., an infographic).
ENGL 215
In Fall 2014, I had the opportunity to teach a section of ENGL 215, Textual Analysis. I chose “Literature as Conceptual Art” as the course theme, focusing on experimental American, British, and Canadian literature after the Second World War. The class took Kenneth Goldsmith’s notion of uncreative writing as a point of departure for exploring two major currents in conceptual literature: texts made from generative methods (constraint, procedure, series) and appropriation art (pastiche, copying, erasure, palimpsest).


Before joining the faculty at VCU, I had over over eight years of experience teaching literature and composition courses at the University of Washington and Carroll University. Below I describe classes I taught at UW and Carroll and outline my teaching philosophies, including how I use technology in the classroom.


At the University of Washington, I taught discussion-based, writing-intensive introductory literature courses to classes of 40 students. Some were focused on a period and national literature that I study (American or British literature after 1900), and others were a cross-historical exploration of a genre or topic (metafiction, intertextuality).

When facilitating class discussion, I keep students focused on the course theme while allowing them to bring their interests to the table. My goal is for the class to extend the conversation into areas that have not yet been explored. I evaluate participation by having students recount one time they contributed to discussion, describing the relevance of their comment to the conversation in progress and how it furthered the class’s ongoing investigation of key issues. I also help students prepare for group presentations on readings so that they serve as a way to invite the class to explore new perspectives.

Borrowed Literature. This course examined intertextuality in poetry and prose, or how texts referenced, alluded to, or parodied earlier works in an effort to cement their place in literary history. Students traced the transformations of source texts—reading, for example, the poems T. S. Eliot quoted in The Waste Land, or studying the Homeric figures Derek Walcott transposed to the Caribbean in his Omeros—and debated how the “borrowing” enhanced or compromised the later works’ literary value. [Click here for a document containing the course syllabus, a list of readings, descriptions of the essay assignments, and student evaluations.]

Literature Between Modernism and Postmodernism. This course introduced students to examples of British modernist and postmodernist fiction and poetry and critical accounts of the dominant artistic and social concerns of those two periods. In the second half of the term, students read works dating from 1930 to 1968 (Isherwood, Auden, Beckett, Bunting, Rhys) and discussed their place in literary history in relation to modernism and postmodernism. [Click here for a document containing the course syllabus, a list of readings, the midterm exam questions and study materials, a description of the final essay assignment, and student evaluations.]


At the University of Washington, I gained extensive experience teaching writing and revision to first-year students. The classes of 20 students I led in the Expository Writing Program stressed argument and rhetorical awareness. Some of these courses emphasized the interpretation of literature while others explored social issues. I also taught composition sections that had a service learning component. In those courses, students combined reflection on their personal experience as volunteers in the community with their responses to nonfiction essays about discrimination based on gender, age, and sexual orientation.

As a teaching associate for the Interdisciplinary Writing Program from 2008 to 2010, I taught writing sections linked to a lecture course that introduced students to the English major. I designed writing assignments in collaboration with the lecture instructor and colleagues leading other sections. This experience introduced me to Writing in the Disciplines approaches to teaching composition. My second year teaching in the Interdisciplinary Writing Program I was promoted to Senior Teaching Fellow in recognition of my mentoring of new teaching associates.

In all of the composition courses I taught at the University of Washington, students completed a number of short assignments from which they developed larger arguments, all the while integrating feedback from peers. These assignments, in conjunction with in-class discussion and activities, introduced students to critical reading practices and research methodologies. I met with students individually two or three times during the quarter to discuss their work in progress. Students revised their work after having these conferences and upon receiving my written comments on their drafts.

Composition: Literature. These materials illustrate how, in composition courses aimed at first-year students, I emphasize the sequential development of reading and writing skills, encourage peer collaboration, and advocate revision. The readings for this particular course were poems and fiction, and so I introduced students to close reading and taught them how to respond to literary critics. [Click here for a document containing the course syllabus, a series of handouts I created to support my teaching of reading and writing skills, and student evaluations.]

Writing Seminar: Adapting Our Lives to Technology. The first-year writing course I taught at Carroll University focused on how smartphones, social networking sites, and other new technologies shape our behaviors. My students recognized their own concerns about the ubiquity of digital devices in the claims of published authors, inspiring them to contribute new insights on the subject through the arguments they write. [Click here for a document containing the course syllabus, reading list, and student evaluations.]


In my teaching, I always use technology to increase and enhance student participation and collaboration. I have encouraged discussion through the use of message boards and blogs, conducted class sessions in computer labs to facilitate peer review of drafts, and asked students to synthesize collectively their knowledge by coauthoring web pages. These digital resources also promote the incremental drafting of essays, the approach I take to teaching writing and revision. To make my students aware of how textual forms influence reception, I discuss in my literature courses different experiences of reading made possible by new technologies, such as e-books.




































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