Teaching Philosophy

My teaching centers around the recognition that we are always already embedded in a network of relationships. Those relationships begin and end far beyond the classroom, but I see the classroom as an opportunity to explore with students how those relationships are shaped, negotiated, and made visible through language, literature, and culture. I ask my students to read closely and critically analyze the texts we read but also to be open to the variety of ways texts shape us in return. Our conversations are grounded in a recognition of the social, political, and cultural consequences of the aesthetic strategies of the texts we engage. My primary task as a teacher is to help students understand how literature both actively shapes the world around us and gives us the tools to imagine a better one.

Increasingly, one world we explore in the classroom is the digital. I have been incorporating digital content and student-led digital projects since I began teaching in 2012. Digital technologies have become a key pedagogical tool in the classroom as students adopt, explore, and adapt different relationships to their voices as writers and storytellers and their audiences. Through course blogs, Storify essays, and re-mediation projects, students learn to think critically about the affordances and constraints of media forms (digital and non-digital) and reflect on how we consume, circulate, and contribute to the conversations that shape our communities on- and offline.

Selected Courses

ENGL 273 – Exploring Fiction: The Ethics of Storytelling

To attend to the ethics of storytelling, Adam Zachary Newton argues, is to address the “reciprocal claims binding teller, listener, witness, and reader.” In this course, we’ll explore how these claims shape our reading and inform how we navigate the worlds inside and outside the text. Through reading, listening to, watching, and creating stories, we’ll compare and explore different modes of storytelling (including short and long fiction, nonfiction, radio, film, and television). We’ll ask questions about voice and agency and examine genre, form, character, and focalization. Over the course of the semester, we’ll investigate the social, cultural, political, and ethical consequences of storytelling and how we imagine ourselves and others. In analyzing these narratives, we’ll reflect on how our experiences shape and are shaped by the stories we tell and how we tell them.

ENGL 283 – Women in Literature: Fashioning the Self

“That was her self – pointed; dart-like; definite. That was her self when some effort, some call on her to be her self, drew the parts together, she alone knew how different, how incompatible and composed so for the world only into one centre, one diamond, one woman . . .” Like Clarissa Dalloway gazing in the mirror in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, in this course, we’ll ask how we come to recognize the self and what it’s composed of. We will explore the ways women work with and against social norms, political possibilities, and material culture to fashion their public persona and private self. We will look at twentieth century literature, art, and film in order to ask how language and culture shape female bodies, desire, and consciousness. We will also grapple more broadly with the relationship between gender and subjectivity and its consequences for how we relate to the world and the people in it.

UCWR 110 – Writing Responsibly

This class takes the question of responsibility as its central theme. Over the course of the semester, we will explore the ways in which our participation in language, culture, conversation, technology, and communities shape our relationships to how we (mis)understand and (dis)connect with those around us. The goal of the course is to build on your pre-existing writing and critical thinking skills, helping you become a stronger reader, writer, and thinker. These skills are vital for your time here at Loyola and will shape your contributions to the world beyond.

UCLR 100 – Interpreting Literature: The Violence of Representation and the Representation of Violence

In this foundational course, we’ll explore the representation of violence and the violence of representation across a variety of literary modes and genres, including poetry, short stories, drama, and novels. As we survey the literary history of violence in the twentieth century, we will ask what’s at stake in these representations of violence. What kinds of violence do these texts represent – personal, collective, structural, political, etc.? How do different literary modes or critical approaches shape how violence becomes meaningful? How might the very ways in which we make sense of the world be violent? And, more centrally, what role does literature play in our social and cultural imagination? To answer these questions and others, we will develop close reading skills, master key literary and critical terms, and investigate critical approaches to interpreting and analyzing literature.