I’m a professor at St. John’s University where I’ve been teaching since 1994. Before that I taught in the Expository Writing Program at Harvard, in the Tufts University Experimental College, at Siena College while working as an academic advisor in the Higher Education Opportunity Program, and as a graduate assistant at the University at Albany. As a graduate student I also worked as a substitute teacher for elementary, middle school, and high school. As an undergraduate I taught weekend art courses to elementary students, as well as evening art classes in migrant camps in Wyoming county, NY. Below you’ll find my teaching philosophy; a list of courses designed and taught at St. John’s (an asterisk next to a course indicates a new course I added to the University curriculum); and some information on the Institute for Writing Studies that I created at St. John’s in 2006.
I privilege classroom environments where students explore and reflect upon the course content via their unique histories and emerging philosophies.
I value intellectual, linguistic, and compositional variety, giving students a number of choices for how they might meet course objectives. Students are invited to work in a range of forms and materials as they engage with the material. Multimodal, multimedia, and multigenre practices are encouraged and supported. As a proponent of and practitioner within the areas of arts-based research, practice as research, and research-creation, I create spaces in my courses for students to experiment, if they wish, in alternative forms. Ultimately, I am interested in exploring syntheses between the binary of “critical thinking” and “creative making”. I consider these two sides of the same coin, and am continually exploring ways my students and I might engage and add to the ideas circulating within the curriculum via a “both/and” privileging of intensive analysis and scrutiny combined with experimental composing.
Every course I teach is deeply writing intensive. Whether undergraduate or graduate, students are writing every week, and every week responding to the writing of their peers. Teaching ways of offering supportive, complicating, analytical, and empathetic responses to one another is a crucial component. And while ultimately quality work is the goal, to get there I emphasize quantity. Writing is a mode of thinking, and so the more we do on a sustained, continual basis, the better.
I assess student performance through a contract grading approach that is uninterested in whatever “talent” a student might bring to the course but instead values behavior and input. I intentionally set high productivity benchmarks: a minimum of 5 pages of written work per week, ongoing written peer feedback to one’s group members, an oral presentation, a longer final project revised over time, and a final portfolio including, among other artifacts, a detailed self-reflection. I adhere to this whether it’s first-year composition or a doctoral course. I do not grade any of this work individually, but rather give students feedback and a grade on their progress periodically throughout the semester. If a student completes all of the required tasks on time, as well as addresses any concerns I might have about her work, the grade is an A. Grades less than that are generally a reflection of late or missing work.
Many of my courses resemble large clusters of independent studies. While the theme of every course is the umbrella concept linking all of the readings, students are encouraged to engage with that content from their own local needs and interests. (I am influenced here by Stephen North’s idea of a “fusion-based curriculum”.) While I understand that this approach is not for everyone, I personally thrive on the variation and surprises this can bring to the classroom. I get considerable enjoyment identifying groups of students with shared interests who might then be placed in small peer response groups.
What is your personal relationship to this material? How is your understanding of the material a reflection of your singular geographic, class, linguistic, and cultural history? How will you further complicate the ideas implicit within the course content by introducing your personal lens into the classroom dialogue? How might the work you do in this course support some of your professional goals? And how will the nature of the course material and your peers’ insights challenge, reaffirm, and further complicate your beliefs?These are the types of questions at the heart of the courses I teach.
Courses taught at St. John's University
Undergraduate, English Department
Introduction to College Writing
Composition and Rhetoric
Introduction to English Studies
Introduction to Literary Theory
Constructing Suburbia in Film and Literature*
Seminar in the Teaching of Writing*
Writing the Future*
Utopian and Dystopian Literature*
Undergraduate, Institute for Core Studies
Graduate, English Department
Writing Theory/Writing Practice*
Constructing Suburbia in Film and Literature*
Emerging Technologies and the Making of Meaning*
Introduction to the Profession of English
Theories of Literacy*
Writing Nonfiction Workshop
Writing the Future*
Young Adult Literature*
Independent Study in Writing Center Theory and Practice*
Independent Study in Flash Fiction*
Independent Study in First-Year Writing Pedagogy*
Master’s Thesis, Doctoral Exam, and Doctoral Dissertation Committees
Dissertation and Doctoral Exam Committees: Anna Cairney (2019), Abe Jette (2019), Vittoria Rubino (2018), Meridith Leo (2018), Cristina Migliaccio (2017), Nicole Papaioannou (2017), Katelynn DeLuca (2017), Nathalie Virgintino (2016), Lauren Kopec (2015), Anna Sicari (2015), Kerri Mulqueen Baldasano (2015), Josh Pangborn (2014), Michelle Liptak (2010), Brian Quinn (2010), Carla Caglioti (2009), Judy Phagan (2003), Joseph Sora (2002), Barbara Sudol (2001), Rochelle Almeida (1999), Linda Reesman (1997), Juliet Emanuel-George (1997), Rebecca Neuhedel (1997), Richard Vogel (1996), Elizabeth Grant (1996).
MA Thesis Committees: Marla Katz (2019), Nicole Gubelli (2019), Samira Korgan (2016), Konstandino Kritikos (2015), Dominique Ficalora (2007), Laura Finn (2004), Nicolette Porochnia (2001), Paul Reifenheiser (1996).
McNair Fellowship Mentor: Patricia Lespinasse (2000-2002).
Dissertation Committees (outside reader): Gerard Robertson (2017, Fordham), Stephanie Wade (2010, SUNY Stony Brook), Daniel Bullen (2003, NYU), Mark Peters (2002, SUNY Buffalo).
Institute for Writing Studies
At the request of former University President Donald Harrington and Provost Julia Upton, I was asked to design and direct an expansive writing program at St. John’s. In 2006 we opened the Institute for Writing Studies, comprised of three units: the University’s first First-Year Writing Program; a much expanded University Writing Center; and a Writing Across the Curriculum program. It was one of the largest multifaceted writing programs in the country, and caught the attention of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Institute for Writing Studies lasted for 11 years; in the end it was dissolved by a new administration.