Teaching Philosophy

On the first day of a new class, I like to invite my students to participate in a thought-experiment: by what series of historical coincidences, decisions, and luck did we end up in this classroom today in front of the particular list of books that makes up our syllabus? This exercise has two goals. The first is to allow students to articulate their own reasons for taking a college literature class and to reflect on the educational journeys that have led them to do so. The second is to prompt the class to consider how, throughout the history of higher education, certain texts have come to be seen as institutionally appropriate or rebellious, and, further, to ask how our own class fits into such a history. These questions begin to broach my core pedagogical values of engagement, inclusion, historical awareness, and interdisciplinarity. The most important outcomes of an English class, for me, are that students emerge with a heightened understanding of both the personal and social power of literature and that they become aware of themselves as readers in a larger historical landscape.

I treat my students as collaborators in their own educations and welcome diverse perspectives and methodologies, particularly those that blend literature and science. My courses often ask students to articulate the connections and disparities they see between juxtaposed historical moments, and I lead class workshops in library archives whenever possible. I am also a strong believer in incorporating community engagement into my classes.