I teach courses in the First-Year Writing Program and in my area of research—British literature. I am committed to fostering students’ intellectual capacities for analysis, synthesis, application, and evaluation, deeming that it is as important for students to be able to wield the words and ideas of others as it is for them to improve their own writing and critical thinking skills. Too often, students assume professional and creative writing is the product of genius and they doubt their abilities to comprehend it or to aspire to it. My approach in all of my English classes is to demonstrate that great writing is not (entirely) vatic inspiration but a skillful weaving of habits of thought and formal conventions, both of which students can learn to recognize in others’ writing and to cultivate in their own. My goal is for my students to develop their mastery of language as they become critical readers and writers in English.
My research focuses on vitality and the various, unusual places it could be found in early modern literature, natural philosophy, and medical texts. My work has taken me from the textual traces of horse hairs that turn into serpents (in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, for instance), to the grave in John Donne’s “The Relic” (in which a bracelet of hair reunites two lovers’ souls in the afterlife), to the theater, where puppets seemingly come to life even as they give life to Shakespeare’s poem, Venus and Adonis. In keeping with my interest in ecocriticism and the multiple forms life takes in nature, I am currently researching the ways in which the early modern English attitudes toward rapid population growth correspond with modern anxieties over demographic shifts.