"Ideas (which themselves are but part of our experience) become true just insofar as they help us to get into satisfactory relation with other parts of our experience."
--William James, Pragmatism
My teaching philosophy draws on the idea—theorized most famously by American Pragmatist philosophers William James and John Dewey—that the acquisition of knowledge occurs through the always-ongoing negotiation between our intimate experience of a world that is constantly changing and the shared ideas we use to understand and act in it. It is therefore only by bringing our fundamentally unique interpretation, whether of a text or of the world itself, into dialogue with the interpretations and perspectives of others that we gain a better sense of the world we inhabit together. I therefore encourage plentiful dialogue and debate as well as an engagement with a diverse array of readings in order to expand each student’s interpretive and analytical skills so that they are better able to synthesize ideas and interact with their peers in the collective quest for knowledge and understanding.
I talk about my teaching more in the podcasts I've posted.
American Literature and Social Unrest (Topics in Literary Expression) (Fall 2021), SUNY Plattsburgh. Examines how U.S. writers and thinkers have long sought to depict—and, ultimately, to understand—the shocking moments of social and political unrest that have always been a part of American life. Students explore a diverse range of writers and literary genres, from fiction, poetry, and film to slave narratives, essays, and oratory, as they analyze the artistic methods and philosophical frameworks that writers employed in an effort to come to terms with events such as the political upheavals during the Revolutionary era; the slave rebellions, draft riots, and insurrections of the nineteenth century; and the protest movements and reactionary violence of the twentieth century.
Visions of America (Spring 2021), SUNY Plattsburgh. A study of literature and art as a means for understanding narratives of American cultural history. Students examine poetry, fiction, and essays as well as political speeches, paintings, film, and music and explore a diversity of writers and perspectives stretching from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Topics include democratic ideals; slavery and its legacy; racial, gender, ethnic, and class inequality; protest movements; immigration; the environment; and interconnections between history, literature, and art.
American Literature to the Civil War (Spring 2021), SUNY Plattsburgh. Traces the development of American literature from the landing of the Mayflower up through the revolutionary writing of the Early Republic and into the tumultuous decades of the 1850s. Students study an array of textual forms including poetry, fiction, essays, speeches, political documents, and visual art, as well as a diverse range of writers.
American Literature - Civil War to World War I (Fall 2020 and 2021), SUNY Plattsburgh. Examines how a diverse range of U.S. writers sought to capture and address the developments and challenges of postwar life with new literary forms and practices, including the realist and naturalist novel as well as utopian literature and social commentary. Readings include works by Herman Melville, Mark Twain, W. E. B. Du Bois, Rebecca Harding Davis, William Dean Howells, and Henry James (among others), as well as works of visual art.
The Pleasures of the Text: Literary Interpretation (Fall 2020 and 2021, Spring 2021), SUNY Plattsburgh. Introduction to the study of individual literary works, particularly the relationship between their formal and substantive dimensions. Works studied include poetry, fiction, and drama, with the greatest emphasis on poetry.
Slavery, Politics, and American Literature (Spring 2020), Boston College. Graduate seminar exploring the various formal and aesthetic strategies as well as the philosophical frameworks US writers employed to understand and address slavery in the antebellum era. Emphasis placed on formal analysis as well as knowledge of historical and political contexts. Readings include works by Thomas Jefferson, Phillis Wheatley, James Madison, David Walker, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Daniel Webster, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Abraham Lincoln.
Introduction to American Studies (Spring 2020), Boston College. Introduces students to approaches, methods, and themes of interest for interpreting American culture. Focus is placed on developing critical skills for analyzing works of literature, film, painting, music, landscape, architecture, and material culture, among others.
American Literary History II (Fall 2019), Boston College. Examines how a diverse range of U.S. writers sought to capture and address the developments and challenges of postwar life with new literary forms and practices, including the realist and naturalist novel as well as utopian literature and social commentary. Readings include works by Herman Melville, Mark Twain, W. E. B. Du Bois, Rebecca Harding Davis, William Dean Howells, and Henry James (among others), as well as works of visual art.
Literature and Politics from Julius Caesar to Game of Thrones (Spring 2019, Fall 2019), Boston College. Core literature course that focuses on the development of interpretive methods and analytical writing. Major texts explore the issues and problems of collective existence and include Machiavelli's The Prince, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Frederick Douglass's The Heroic Slave, Herman Melville's, Billy Budd, Sailor, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and the HBO series Game of Thrones, among others.
Experiencing Boston (Fall 2018-Spring 2019), University of Massachusetts-Boston. Full-year course cycle for freshmen aimed at developing critical reading and writing skills by focusing on significant works of literature written in and around Boston. Through both classroom reading and discussion as well as guided field-trips to area sites, students will learn to situate literary works in their historical and cultural contexts and to consider broadly the complex relationship between art and society.
The Courage to Know (Fall 2018-Spring 2019), Boston College. Elective seminar for first-year students that uses literature and social commentary to explore ideas and questions central to the college experience, including the nature of identity and learning, social justice, faith, race, class, gender, intimacy, and vocational discernment. Will serve as students’ academic advisor for the entire year.
Composition (Fall 2018), University of Massachusetts-Boston. Required course designed to help undergraduate students to develop a variety of strategies for writing, reading, and critical thinking for the various writing contexts they encounter at the university and beyond. Students will develop an appreciate for writing as a process and develop a working knowledge of different genres and rhetorical practices.
Studies in Narrative (Spring 2016), Boston College. Designed and taught required course for English majors that emphasized the critical and theoretical concepts related to the study of narrative works and the further development of analytical writing. Readings included short stories, novels, memoirs, and film.
19th-Century American Literature and the National Imagination (Fall 2015), Boston College. Designed and taught upper-level elective seminar for English majors that explored the way in which U.S. writers examined the issues of nationhood. Central ideas included the role of tradition, the nature of rights, and the conflict between democratic ideals and the existence of slavery. Course emphasized a broad conception of “literature” and included fiction and poetry as well as essays, political documents, and oratory.
Literature Core: Politics and/vs. Literature (Spring 2015), Boston College. Designed and taught required literature course for freshmen and sophomores that focuses on development of interpretive methods and analytical writing. Major texts focused on central questions and problems of political and social life and included Shakespeare’s Julius Caeser; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor; George Orwell’s 1984; and the graphic novel V for Vendetta.
First-Year Writing Seminar (Fall 2014), Boston College. Designed and taught inquiry-based, required writing course for freshmen aimed at developing an appreciation for writing as a process and a working knowledge of different genres—including personal narratives, place-based essays, research papers, and op-ed writing—and associated rhetorical conventions.
Teaching Assistant, Boston: History, Literature, and Culture I (Fall 2013), with Professors Paul Lewis and Owen Stanwood, Boston College. Interdisciplinary co-taught course (history & literature) in which I was responsible for leading discussion groups, grading student work, and occasional lecturing.