Sample Course Descriptions
Eng 111: Principles of Effective Writing
This might be my all-time favorite course to teach. It changes semester by semester, depending on what’s going on in the world . Each week I mix specific rhetorical and writing skills with discussion about how to write effectively and strategically in the academy and the digital culture. We rely on the rich resources students bring to class--most speak two or three languages, have lived in several countries, have worked many kinds of job--and the varied challenges and opportunities of our college’s location in the Bronx. The course takes place in a computer lab and we spend the first few weeks of the semester getting comfortable with the digital platforms we use to draft, revise, comment, publish.
Eng 300: Introduction to the English Major
This might be my second favorite course to teach. The students, recently declared English majors, are brimming with questions about literature, culture, and their futures as readers and writers. The question that frames the course is this: What does an English major do, in college and beyond…and why?” We read from almost every genre and pair these readings with recently published journalistic and scholarly essays about literature, literacy, culture, politics, and identity. I think of this course as an intense critical reading and writing workshop and the assignments are project-based.
Eng 307: The Novel
One way to teach the skills of close, careful reading and of writing clear, dynamic, and vigorous prose is to challenge the purpose of learning those skills. In The Novel course, we question what on earth we’re doing spending fourteen weeks thinking about novels. It’s a commitment to read a novel. Sure there is the element of escape that often accompanies a long and good read. But still; it’s a commitment. In this class we talk about the obligation, dedication, and responsibility of reading a novel. What are the gains and losses with such dedication and obligation?
Eng 783: Teaching Practicum
Teaching M.A. students is an incredible opportunity to engage and excite future teachers and scholars in English studies. Most of the students in this class are working teachers in New York City schools. The class takes place during what is normally a dinner hour, so we eat. And we workshop teaching strategies, linking them to contemporary theory and data on education. Like all of the M.A. courses I teach begin by doing inventory of students’ preparation ad experience as a reader-writer so far, and their goals for pursuing a graduate degree in English. Courses expose students to the vibrant world of scholarship and critical writing and each seminar combines reading in literary, literacy, and rhetorical theory with a writing and pedagogy workshop. I teach both literature and writing courses but most of my classes are part of the Composition-Rhetoric area.
Eng 79010: Writing, Culture and the Humanities in Transition 1991-2002
Specialization is the name of the game in doctoral studies, or so it’s often said. But specialization (and its cousin, expertise) should be questioned in a 21st century humanities education. My approach to teaching doctoral candidates is to combine an overview of my research areas—rhetoric, writing studies, and the history of English studies in America—with particular questions that probe students’ interests and challenge perspectives that dominate scholarship in these fields. Doing this at work at The Graduate Center is particularly exciting. We combine scholarly pursuits with innovative projects like The Futures Initiative and HASTAC. I teach courses in the Composition-Rhetoric areas of the English department at the Ph.D. level. Yet these seminars would suit any doctoral candidate interested in the role of writing in a complex, digital, global, and changing world.
I’ve also taught New Literatures, Women in Literature, Urban Literature, American Literature, Writing for Sociology Majors. Courses I’ve developed and taught include The Teaching Practicum (trains M.A. and Ph.D. students to teach first year composition) and a Peer-Tutoring Workshop (trains advanced undergraduates to work in the college Writing Center).