Short Statement of Teaching Philosophy

I teach primarily with a “writing across the disciplines” approach, which focuses on how writing practices such as citing and drafting processes vary with academic discipline. It’s also concerned with how these practices are shaped by, and continually re-shape, those disciplines’ writing-related values—what counts as “good” writing by way of formal features like organization, sentence structure, narrative quality, and evidence.

My pedagogy draws from anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s concept of propulsive “friction” between ways of knowing: I bring seemingly unlike materials together from my different disciplinary backgrounds so students can put different terms to habitual activities and concepts to see them anew. This teaches students to situate knowledges from multiple traditions and negotiate the balance between reading and representing others’ work accountably on its own terms and identifying what’s useful there for their purposes.

Students in my classes learn how to anticipate and write for multiple audiences; how to recognize, access, and represent information from reliable sources; and how to dwell in the boundaries between genres while shifting them. They translate forms they may already know how to write to ones that may not be as familiar, while reflecting on the disciplinary identities they claim and continuously re-write. This provides students space to grapple with the implications of borrowing methods, the rhetorical choices we make with data, and how analytic processes we most often use for pattern-seeking analysis and surveillance can be useful for remix, intervention, and resistance.

Fall 2021

As Eavan Boland’s poem “That the Science of Cartography is Limited” might remind us, maps are limited renderings of the places we encounter: not only because they are representations of these places rather than the places themselves, but because we make decisions about the features or data we encode in them and the borders we draw. Given how core the language of territory and borders is to how we understand what we know—What “field,” for example, are you thinking of majoring in?—this course will consider borders metaphorically as well as literally. In both contexts, what does it mean to be a citizen, or a migrant, or a tourist? What are the documents that confer or communicate these identities? We will read from fiction, watch movies, and listen to podcasts to think critically about the boundaries that separate physical spaces, as well as those that separate conceptual spaces like fields of knowledge and genres. Further, we will think through the decisions that we make as writers when wandering through these spaces, while representing the identities we and others claim in them. Specifically, we will focus on what documents and data can and can’t capture, as well as how they can, at different times, reinforce or break down the boundaries we draw.

Should an algorithm be used to grade your paper, based on what other papers look like? How about to determine what videos you see on YouTube or TikTok, based on what it thinks you like? Or what about to decide how long you are incarcerated, based on your risk of future crime? In this course, we will read popular and journalistic texts to learn about algorithms and how they can carry the politics of their designers and propagate bias. Discussing issues like digital redlining, recidivism assessment, and facial recognition, we will consider the extent to which the digital technologies that shape our daily experiences when sorting through information can potentially cause harm. Moreover, we will consider our role in resisting the categories chosen for us when sorting through the content we engage, in spaces ranging from social media to grocery stores — thinking, perhaps, about the times we are asked to be algorithmic ourselves as readers and writers. How might we still make space there for what we want to say?

Recent Courses Taught

Writing Center work

As part of an appointment at Northeastern University’s Writing Center, I have facilitated working groups for PhD students in the disciplines, especially the sciences. In this pilot program, I coached group members on revising their drafts, developing their composition processes, and offering peer-review feedback to one another on their writing. I also served as a Writing Center consultant, holding one-on-one sessions, in-person and online, with writers from undergraduate students to faculty.