Courses taught at Duke University (syllabi available upon request)
W275: Cyber Connections: Communicating in the Digital Age
Explores contemporary challenges, contexts, and opportunities with communication across media platforms. Examines historical contexts and texts related to rhetoric and communication, and how these ideas have persisted and shifted in the digital age. Texts include theoretical approaches to communication and rhetoric (past and present) and examples of communication across a range of media (podcasts, multimodal texts, web-based presentations, and social media content). Students learn to conduct rhetorical analysis across media and create written, visual, and/or verbal rhetorical content across media platforms.
W275: Cyber Connections: Health and Harm in Digital Communication
With the digital world shaping our lives more profoundly every year, what can we do to
manage the harmful and helpful aspects of online interaction? This course embraces the
practice and analysis of digital communication, drawing on multimedia sources from Pew
studies to celebrity podcasts to the battleground of COVID news. We will analyze the overt and implied messages in the media we consume, from social and news media to streaming entertainment and the advertisements that follow us everywhere online. Students will build a multimedia portfolio over the course of the semester, informed by their rhetorical study of interactive essays, podcasts, and video op-eds. Regular prompts for reflective writing and digital content development will build toward the capstone project, a collection of 1–2 podcast episodes paired with other digital compositions exploring distress and well-being in relation to digital communication.
ENG222: Intro to Creative Nonfiction: The Books That Made Me
We turn their pages, but in a sense, books read us. These literary encounters make us who we are. What are the texts that have profoundly shaped your mind, your politics, your choice of major? How does reading affect your life in the world, and vice versa? This creative nonfiction workshop will approach such questions through experimental writing. Students will compose and revise two major projects (8–10 pages each) to collect in a final portfolio: one personal essay on formative reading experiences, and another on the way these encounters inform your reading of a new-to-you literary work. Most weeks, we will discuss two students’ work-in-progress, providing feedback for the writers to draw on in revision. We will also examine published essays and memoirs about the reading life. These selections will come from journalistic media, such as The Guardian’s weekly column “The Books That Made Me,” as well as longer memoirs about literary experience, like Jeannette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (2011), Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003), and what may be the earliest Western literary memoir, Augustine of Hippo’s fourth-century Confessions. Students will give two brief presentations: one on the book-length work they choose to write about for their second project and one on a literary memoir.
W101: Intro to Academic Writing: The Art of Writing Letters
Letters—epistles, dispatches, missives, messages—are an ancient yet persistent written form. Today, most of our written verbal interactions happen via text-message and social media, but we still compose letters in high-stakes situations: people in prison, in love, in political advocacy, on the brink of death, and in academia still write and send letters, whether handwritten or typed. In this course, we will examine letters along three interpretive axes and types of written response: First, we will approach letters as the projection of human voice through time. Close-reading exercises, class discussion, and a series of workshopped drafts and revisions will culminate in students’ analytical essays that draw out compelling features of letter-writers’ language use. Next, approaching letters as historical artifacts, students will develop their own research projects in conjunction with Duke’s special collections librarians. Students will compose, workshop, and revise multiple drafts of an argument essay that mediates between primary and secondary source materials to contextualize students’ interpretive work on a letter exchange. Finally, combining elements of both interpretive approaches, we will treat letters as interventions, in which writers use their voices to spark change in their own historical moment. Students’ weekly epistolary practice will culminate in a letter to a public figure, refined through multiple drafts and revisions to be utterances that students are proud to share in public. To that end, we’ll be staging a Perkins library exhibition of these letters. This course is about learning to engage the rhythms and maneuvers of academic writing as epistolary correspondence. You’ll learn to discern and respond to the historically situated human voice in other people’s writing. You’ll learn to recognize and manage your own writing voice in relation to others’ as you describe, take interpretive positions, summarize, paraphrase, synthesize, and intervene in academic discussions.
Guest Teaching at Duke University
ENG236: Shakespeare: On Nature (Digital Archival Expeditions module)
This virtual teaching module was developed during a Digital Archival Expeditions Internship offered in summer 2020 by Duke University’s Rubenstein Library. The module is built for an undergraduate literature seminar at the 200s–300s level. The class sessions are conceived as 80-minute synchronous Zoom or in-person meetings, either chunked toward the beginning of term or split up to accompany each new play introduced over the semester. Each session is built of small segments that could be adapted for asynchronous online teaching, or for blending piecemeal into a larger number of sessions than the five I have planned out here. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university’s special collections were closed. But as I hope this module shows, there is a great deal of material to work with in digital resources like Duke’s subscriptions to Adam Matthew databases, as well as the Folger and Newberry Libraries, the British Library, the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as other universities’ materials so generously made available online.