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The cornerstone of my teaching philosophy is personal engagement.  I seek to know my students as individual human beings—each with his or her own set of values, strengths, and aspirations—and to provide them with personalized learning experiences that inspire and engage them.  For starters, I make a point of learning every one of my students’ names on the first day of class.  I joke with them that now I can call on them—and I do.  Indeed, conversation is a hallmark of my teaching.  Whether they are critiquing a classmate’s argument during peer review or studying symbolism in an online discussion, my students grow accustomed to my questions: “Why do you think that?”  “What evidence suggests that reading to you?”  “That’s a great observation.  What do you make of that?”


These conversations, which begin on the first day of class, continue throughout the semester.  In a typical week, my students might read an argument or a novel, explore its context in my online lessons, respond to it in a “Think Fast” quiz, discuss it with classmates and me, and reflect on it in a “Think Again” post on the Web.  I also meet with students in conferences, where our focus is always on their work, their skills, their questions.  Finally, I respond to their work in progress reports, where I provide detailed guidance tailored to their own abilities and performance.


On several occasions, I have taken education beyond the campus.  Over the past 15 years, I have participated in a study abroad trip to Spain and led trips to Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans, Colonial Williamsburg, and St. Louis.  Undergraduate and graduate students have joined me on research trips to explore manuscripts at Houghton Library on the Harvard University campus and at the Ransom Center in Austin, Texas.  Two of these students have collaborated with me on publications: Out of the West, a transcription of Thomas Wolfe’s notes in the West (forthcoming from the Thomas Wolfe Society) and Thomas Wolfe Remembered (under review by University of Alabama Press).


I wish I could say that every student I have taught has gone away a changed person.  I can’t.  Like all teachers, I have had my moments of frustration, but I also have had moments of another cast.  Once, in a senior seminar, I asked a question about research, and a student came up with the perfect answer; he was the same student I had taught in composition years ago.  He got it.  I also have seen a student who did not pass composition with me one semester return and, through hard work and determination, pass the class.  She got it.  Each is a little closer to his or her potential.  I hope they found some satisfaction in those accomplishments.  I know I have.

UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2008

Outstanding Teaching Award, 2000


Selected Courses

A101: Student Success Seminar

ENG 1060: Composition 2

ENG 201: Southern Literature

ENG 203: Introduction to Literature

ENG 2230: American Literature Before 1865

ENGL 313: Grammar of Current English

ENG 3140: American Literature in Transition

ENG 3430: The American Novel

ENG 3460: Aspects of the English Language

ENGS 5060: Literature and Journalism

ENGS 5350: Thomas Wolfe

ENG 507: Biblical Literature

FRS 1000: Freshman Seminar


Educational Travel

Lewis, Clark, and You!, Junior Enrichment Experience for North Carolina Teaching Fellows, May 2004

A New Orleans Feast, Junior Enrichment Experience for North Carolina Teaching Fellows, May 2003

Colonial Williamsburg, Junior Enrichment Experience for North Carolina Teaching Fellows, June 2002

Beginning in Boston, Junior Enrichment Experience for North Carolina Teaching Fellows, June 2001

Philadelphia in the Life of America, Junior Enrichment Experience for North Carolina Teaching Fellows, 2000


Research Mentoring

Out of the West (with Savanna Fowler and Nami Montgomery), 2012-2013

Thomas Wolfe Remembered (with Nami Montgomery), 2012-present

Research Trips to UNC-Chapel Hill, UT-Austin, and Harvard (with various undergraduate and graduate students), 2012-2013


Educational Resources

Be Your Best, guide to study strategies

The Grammar Hardware Store, resource on English grammar

Guide to Library Research, tutorial created with librarian Michael Alewine

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, overview of the expedition

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