teaching.things

I have taught a range of courses, including first-year writing, public and professional writing, literature, and tutor pedagogy for students preparing to become tutors in the Writing Center. Under the following sub-pages you will find excerpted course descriptions, sample readings, and excerpts from assignments. In most cases I’d be happy to share full syllabi (if not provided) and assignments, so feel free to contact me.

Narrative and Technology

Writing for the Public

First-Year Composition

Written Professional Communication

Tutor Pedagogy

Literature

The survey of course descriptions and sample assignment prompt excerpts available on the above pages come from a variety of dynamic and dramatically different contexts. While it’s true that these different contexts have had an impact on my teaching praxis overall, it’s important to me not to imagine that such courses can be dropped into any context and serve the same purpose. It’s been important to me to attempt to understand an institution through its conventional goals and objectives, as addressed through the curriculum, and to find ways of meeting these particular students in this particular institutional context where they are. As such, I take a bit of time below to describe the institutional contexts the courses you’ll read about were/are situated within.

Eng-Lit 512, Narrative & Technology, University of Pittsburgh (Summer 2017)

Students who attend Narrative and Technology tend to be students in English and/or Creative Writing, or are students who need to fulfill a writing intensive or literature general requirements. It is a course that broadly explores how technologies impact narrative, and what that means has been broadly interpreted by its instructors and students. It is a course that runs one section per term and once per summer, typically in the first six-week summer session. Students tend to write both creative and critical multi-modal projects.

Eng-Cmp 400, Written Professional Communication, University of Pittsburgh (Summer 2016)

Students who attend Written Professional Communication in the summer tend to be students who need to fulfill a writing-intensive requirement but are involved in demanding programs during the academic year (like engineering) that leave little room for the completion of graduation requirements until the summer months. Students may also take this course as a core course for the Public and Professional Writing certificate or major. Additional students may come from a variety of disciplines who are moving toward the job market and looking to acquire some professional writing experience before joining the corporate sphere or further graduate study. Students in this course rehearse genres that attend to the purposes of professional communication from application materials to internal documents like reports and memos, from the perspective of the broader rhetorical situation of these communicative acts.

Eng-Cmp 420, Writing for the Public, University of Pittsburgh (Fall 2015, Spring 2016)

Writing for the Public is an intermediate level composition course serving both students’ general education writing-intensive requirement and/or coursework toward students pursuing the Public and Professional Writing certificate or major. Students come from a variety of disciplines, though those disciplines and intellectual investments tend to be public-leaning (e.g. students from civil engineering, public health, education, non-profit management, urban planning, etc.). For some, this is their first major foray into writing for purposes outside of the demonstration of knowledge. In this course we attend substantively to the rhetorical situations involved with being/becoming a rhetorical citizen and in genres that attend to a public or public(s) and toward issues of civic importance.

Eng-Cmp 200, Seminar in Composition, University of Pittsburgh (Fall 2014, Spring 2015)

Teaching assistants at the University of Pittsburgh take, in the second year of their doctoral studies, a pedagogy seminar as well as a teacher mentoring and support workshop sequence and are assigned a teaching mentor who observes our courses and with whom we meet to discuss the progress of our course. Composition at the University of Pittsburgh’s is one of the oldest writing programs in the country and has always held student writing as one of its central subjects and has consistently taught writing as inquiry, as exploratory, and as dynamic in its genres. In this iteration of Seminar in Composition, teaching assistants and several composition faculty taught with Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste as a way to think about alternative modes of critical inquiry, though the subject of this course is always composition. With a research grant to develop digital pedagogies, the committee of teaching mentors developed a syllabus attending to the digital through the assigning of course blogs, interactive hyperlinked essays, and two audio projects. While the syllabus and the course text are shared, the course description and assignment excerpt were my own interpretation of the course exigencies.

English 101: Composition and Literature, Washington College (Spring 2011, Fall 2011, and Fall 2012)

Washington College is a small liberal arts institution on the eastern shore of Maryland in a community made up of only around 5,000 citizens. It is one of the oldest colleges in the country, and has a longstanding tradition of valuing creative writing, as it is home to the largest undergraduate creative writing award in the world, the Sophie Kerr Prize. All students are required to take English 101 regardless of AP credits and cannot test out. The introductory composition curriculum values as its objectives a commitment to close reading and in the writing of interpretive, analytical prose. The course is housed in the English department and is paired with a globally focused research course taught by faculty across the disciplines, which students also take in the first year (this is not necessarily a sequence, English 101 may be first or second, depending on the student). The course, as represented here, takes advantage of the primary source attention and the creatively energized student body to look at various literary genres in light of craft decisions, and attends to mimicry as a mode of intellectual play and analysis.

Education 490: Writing Theory and Pedagogy: a Seminar in Peer Tutoring (Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013)

As Assistant Director of the Writing Center at Washington College, part of my responsibility was to co-teach, with the Director of the Center, the tutor preparation seminar, a full credit upper-level seminar housed in the education department. It’s origins in this department were derived from earlier iterations of the course wherein students in education with investments in writing pedagogy might take the course to receive elective credits without necessarily becoming writing tutors. Although that culture has changed and all students enrolled in the course become writing tutors, the course maintained its status in the department as a nod to the developmental education focus of the course and as a recognition of peer tutoring as peer teaching. The course Dr. John Boyd and I developed was focused on writing development as determined by Anne Beaufort’s five writing domains (though we did not have students read this work, given its intended audience).

English 101, Composition, George Mason University (Fall 2008)

Composition at George Mason serves a diverse student body with particular investments in public policy, government work, international education, and in writing in the disciplines. As such, I designed an introductory composition course with attention to writing in the public sphere, such as my students may need to write or as they are consistently exposed to as citizens of the greater D.C. metropolitan area. In this course, we analyzed government organization blogs, discussed presidential campaign speeches, and wrote assignments that imagined the sources students were employing in their researched essays in situations of debate and competitive exchange.

English 201, Reading and Writing About Texts, George Mason University (Spring 2009)

Another required general education requirement, George Mason’s introductory literature course for non-english majors claims, as its focus, a pedagogy based on reading and writing about texts, and texts is broadly conceived. Goals and objectives for the teaching of this course include exposing students to a variety of genres (perhaps) outside of the conventional literary canon. Given the broad range of investments of my students and the international student body, the work we read and discussed together took up the issue of authorship and character development and the ways in which writers insert themselves into their work — in memoir, graphic novel, contemporary poetry, film, and popular nonfiction. The assignment topics asked students to identity themselves as authors through their essays, and to make decisions drawn from the experiences these texts exposed to them as part of the intellectual work of identity formation and change.

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