Upper-Division Courses Taught
“Intersectional Feminism and Pop Culture,” Women in Popular Culture, Women’s and Gender Studies, Vanderbilt University
This course examines women and gender in popular culture with a particular bent toward intersectional feminist theory. To take into account “intersectionality” means that we study multiple aspects of identity together; in other words, we consider linked systems of oppression that include race, class, ability, ethnicity, and gender, as well as sexism. This course will explore popular culture—meaning music videos, TV shows, movies, memoir, media, and politics—to think about politics of representation, empowerment, commodification, and co-optation. Some of our case studies will include the recent work of Beyoncé Knowles (Lemonade and “Formation,” among others); the television show Transparent about a queer and transgender Jewish family; Maggie Nelson’s memoir The Argonauts on the topics of desire and motherhood; the 2015 film Tangerine featuring a day in the life of two transgender sex workers. We will look at these works of popular culture not simply as entertainment, but rather we will take them as objects of study, critique, and analysis. Alongside our case studies, we will read feminist and queer theory. As the course takes place during this historic presidential election cycle, the final unit of the class will examine the all-consuming election media, with particular attention to what has been called “playing the woman card” in politics and business. There is a prerequisite for this class—you must have taken WGS 1150, 1150W or 1160.
“Modernism and Its Afterlives,” Modern Fiction and Poetry, Department of Literature at UC Santa Cruz
This course examines the avant-garde tradition in modernism and its continued experimental trajectories into our contemporary moment. Studying the “afterlives” of avant-garde works reveals the reading practices that modernist traditions suggest, as well as how those practices are mobilized to create new ones. Our course readings attend to how poets and experimental fiction writers are in dialogue with each other, and across the arts, throughout the twentieth century. Each week we will read work that is in conversation across decades and sometimes continents. For example, after studying Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, published in 1914 in Paris, we will examine reworkings of her text from the 1960s international art group, Fluxus; then we will read American poet Harryette Mullen’s 2006 rewriting of Stein’s work. Whereas Fluxus rewrote Stein’s text in terms of political performance, Mullen expands Tender Buttons’s critique of patriarchy in 1914 to a critique of constructions of race, capitalist structures, and patriarchy today. In a later week, we read James Joyce’s chapter “Wandering Rocks” and then contemporary poetic experiments with space, place, and dialogue. In Week 6, we attend to the ways in which documents from the Black Arts movement of the 1960s critiqued the modernist Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Through these pairings, we will discuss issues of alteration, appropriation, change, and historical specificity. Our focus is on literature in English; this is literature of the United States of America, and English, Irish, and Afro-Caribbean diasporic modernisms. However, we will also learn about other modernisms as we strive to read in a global context.
Graduate Courses Taught
“Pedagogy of Literature,” Department of Literature at UC Santa Cruz
I engage in dialogue because I recognize the social and not merely the individualist character of the process of knowing. In this sense, dialogue presents itself as an indispensible component of the process of both learning and knowing. — Paulo Freire and Donaldo Maced, “A Dialogue, Culture, Language and Race”
This course prepares incoming graduate students in the Literature Department to teach undergraduate classes at UCSC. The class balances application and development of practical teaching tools with discussions about philosophies of teaching, pedagogical models, and communal scholarship. These practical tools include both learning and developing “best practices” for leading discussion sections, grading papers, holding office hours, and managing the classroom. Students of this course will also learn about UCSC’s resources for teachers and the professional development opportunities available to them. The class is modeled to allow students to learn from their colleagues, both through the series of expert visitors, and through discussions with each other as they gain teaching experience. The TA Wiki assignments, section observations, class journals, and teaching philosophies help track independent growth and also create and sustain a community of teachers and learners.
Lower-Division Courses Taught
“Confession and Protest Today,” Introduction to Poetry, Department of English at Vanderbilt University
Take this class if you want to be introduced to what is happening in poetry right now. We will read radically contemporary poetry (published in 2015, 2016, and 2017) that is concerned with the ways in which the personal and the political spheres overlap. Poet, activist, and professor June Jordan wrote that “poetry is a political action…poetry means taking control of the language of your life. Good poems can interdict a suicide, rescue a love affair, and build a revolution.” The poetry that we will read for this course tackles personal, intimate details of its speakers’ lives while also critiquing systems of everyday racism and sexism, US involvement in wars in the Middle East, increasing wealth accumulation for the rich, and immigration policy. The center of gravity for this course is poetry of the United States but important conversations happen across borders. Because we will study poetry as it is alive in our current historical social context, students should be prepared to discuss contemporary politics and should be interested in forms of activism and protest. Most broadly, the course will introduce students to a range of contemporary poetry in order to study how poetic form takes on expressive and political power, and the course will focus on improving students’ writing across the board. In addition to academic papers and presentations, students will write reading responses, go to poetry readings, engage in the process of poetic production, and even memorize a poem. Reading for the course includes full collections by Solmaz Sharif, Claudia Rankine, Anne Boyer, Ada Limón, and Ocean Vuong.
“Modern and Contemporary Poetry of the United States,” Introduction to Poetry, Department of English at Vanderbilt University
This course will introduce students to poetry of the twentieth and twenty-first century in order to study how poetic form takes on expressive and political power. The center of gravity for this course is poetry of the United States but important conversations happen across borders, and thus we will read some Anglophone poetry from around the globe. Students will learn to read, discuss, and write critically about poetry through an exploration of the history and traditions of poetry and poetics in American literature, and through an exploration of modern to contemporary verse. They will become familiar with different poetic schools and movements, as well as the major debates about form and content. The course readings will run chronologically from pre-modernist radicals, Whitman and Dickinson, through various forms of literary modernism, the New Negro or Harlem Renaissance, Objectivism, Black Mountain poetry, the Beats, Confessionalism, the New York School, poetry of the Black Arts Movement, the rapid expansion of varieties of Native American, Asian American and Latino/a poetry after the 1960s, Language writing, and various twenty-first century forms such as conceptual writing. After this broad survey, the course will conclude by reading a full-length book of contemporary poetry, Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. In addition to academic papers and presentations, students will engage in the process of poetic production and memorization.
“Postwar Experimental Literature and the Arts,” Introduction to Literary and Cultural Analysis, Department of English at Vanderbilt University
This class focuses on innovative, genre-bending, multi-media texts of the postwar period and the historical and political contexts in which they were produced. At the mid-twentieth century, distinctions between literary genres and artistic media became more flexible and porous, creating new categories for characterizing experimental works such as “verbal arts,” “event scores,” “conceptual art,” or even “theatricality,” and “arts in general.” This new categorization called for new modes of reading that were more process-based, open-ended, and interdisciplinary. What does the term “experimental” mean when it comes to literature? To answer this question, our course pursues a radically interdisciplinary approach, examining inter-arts works that experiment with new possibilities of perception, spaces, and aesthetic forms. This approach allows us to attend to an expanded range of cultural, artistic, and intellectual practices including performance, visual arts, architecture, political activity, and even mathematical algorithms. We will primarily cover networks of texts and artworks produced in the U.S., but we will uphold a global frame in our discussions. Students will become familiar with modernist and contemporary textual and multi-media production; engage theories of the avant-garde, experimentalism, and interdisciplinarity; engage in meaningful discussion about twentieth-century literature and verbal-based arts; as well as sharpen skills and techniques in argumentation, comparative analysis, interpretation, modes of inquiry, and close reading. Readings include scripts and scores by Fluxus artists, texts from the Black Arts Movement, feminist performance art, constraint-generated poetry, multi-form novels, and conceptual writing.
“Reading Poetry, 1540-2015,” Introduction to Poetry, Department of English at Vanderbilt University
Does poetry serve to “teach and delight” throughout history (Sidney), or is it illusive and finicky like a “fading coal” (Shelley)? What is its role in the world? Is it a companion to political resistance like the Athens “riot dog” that accompanies protesters and warns them when police are at the door (Commune Editions)? Or do poems carry “no news” (Williams)? Can we agree that poetry is “a vital necessity of our existence” (Lorde)? Or is poetry simply when we have “nothing to say” (Cage)? Can it be genuine and ugly, “an imaginary garden with real toads” (Moore)? Does it look like our innards (Anzaldúa)? Like “Hearts Brains/ Souls splintering fire” (Baraka)? Or is it modestly “palpable and mute / As a globed fruit” (MacLeish)? This course will introduce students to a broad range of poetry and poetics in order to study how poetic form takes on expressive and political power throughout history. Students will learn to read, discuss, and write critically about poetry through an exploration of the history and traditions of poetry and poetics in Anglophone literature. The course will focus on important poetic forms—such as the sonnet, ballad, and elegy—and on methods and devices for reading and writing about poetry—such as lineation, metaphor, and scansion—to ensure that students will gain a technical vocabulary for scholarly work in poetics. Knowledge of these forms and methods are useful for simply appreciating poetry more, too. After a broad survey of poetry in English, the course will conclude by reading a full-length book of contemporary poetry, Citizen by Claudia Rankine. In addition to academic papers and presentations, students will engage in the process of poetic production and memorization.
“Introduction to Creative Writing: Poetry and Fiction”
Creative Writing Program, Department of Literature at UC Santa Cruz
The purpose of this class is to introduce you the process of: a) writing fiction and poetry, as well as other creative, genre-defying works b) discussing creative works critically and in a generative manner, c) workshopping and revising your work, d) familiarizing yourself with a wide range of contemporary and modern creative texts. The texts we read inform us as both readers and writers. The readings are varied so as to expose you to a breadth of styles, genres, opinions and approaches. Likewise, the writing exercises and experiments will help you explore boundaries of content and form in your work. You will have writing due every Tuesday and you will also be asked to write blog posts for our class community. All readings– of visiting writers and others– are found in the course reader. Visiting writers: Cherrie Moraga, Veronica Reyes & Havier Huerta, Korimar Press, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Luis Alfaro, John Jota Leanos, Anita Hill, Maceo Montoya.
“Getting Lost: Collecting Pieces, Exploring Cityscapes and Straying Afield,” Rhetoric and Inquiry, Writing Program at UC Santa Cruz
Have you ever gotten really lost? By what means did you find your way? Contemporary theorist and critic Steven Shaviro writes, “critical writing should always be a transformative experience.” He goes on to quote Michel Foucault who asked “what would be the value of the passion for knowledge if it resulted only in a certain amount of knowledgeableness and not, in one way or another, and to the extent possible, in the knower’s straying afield of himself?” In this class, you’ll stray afield. We will read theory that interrogates the notion of stable place or space, literature that depicts unfamiliar surroundings, and experiments that lead to unexpected places. You’ll work with your peers to create shared paths, and you’ll also find your own “way” through the course material. You’ll learn to see your own work as permeable, open and always affording the possibility of change and critique. By the end of the class, you will write a long piece on an exploration of your choice based on course themes. Together we will open up the concepts of “lost” and “found,” and we will think about possibilities for transformation. Authors include Virginia Woolf, Alice Walker, Jonathan Franzen, Radiolab, Anne Carson, Sappho, Rebecca Solnit, Walter Benjamin, the Situationist International among others.
The Politics of Education, Rhetoric and Composition II: Literacy and the World, University of Southern Indiana
A Core 39 Foundation Skills Course, English 201 is the second of two courses in the critical arts of reading, writing, reflection, and discussion, emphasizing the responsibilities of written inquiry and structured reasoning. As we learn the critical arts of reading, writing, and relfecion our specific section will focus on the education system itself. We will think critically about what it means to write in, for, and about the university.
Credits for images in the order in which they appear on this page:
A Signed Buckminster Fuller Geodesic Dome Blueprint, 1965
An image from Mieko Shiomi’s Spatial Poem (1965-1975)
An image from Johanna Drucker’s Stochastic Poetics, 2012