Welcome! I’m a full-time Senior Instructor of English at Portland State University in Oregon. My areas of scholarly interest include the intersections of food, medicine, gender and literature; Renaissance women writers; Shakespeare; early modern drama; online learning; composition pedagogy across disciplines; service learning; and public humanities.
My current work focuses on equitable writing assessment in composition pedagogy. I am also a “historical foodie” of sorts, researching the ways in which food and medicine were practiced and experienced. When Falstaff mentions raisins and blackberries in 1 Henry IV, for example, the early modern audience would have had very different experiences of these foods than we have today. That experiential and material difference is rich with opportunity for understanding the play, its cultural context, and, sometimes surprisingly, our own beliefs. I’ve also dabbled in Anglo-Saxon poetry, specifically the magical/medical texts known as the Metrical Charms.
As a public humanist, I believe that the history of the relationship between self, body, and food as reflected in texts continues to be interesting and engaging to both academic and public audiences. As a Portlander, I love hiking with my spouse, 12-year-old kiddo, and our Golden Retriever Falkor knitting; reading; and drinking tea.
FALL 2022 OFFERINGS
ENG 541: Renaissance Fare: Food in Early Modern English Literature
Is a blackberry simply a blackberry, or do our (or Shakespeare’s) beliefs about blackberries have bearing on their materiality? If you truly believed that cantaloupe could make you gravely ill, might it actually do so? In this class, we will study Renaissance literary texts alongside early modern “dietaries” and “herbals” (works that collected recipes, remedies, and cultural wisdom about food) in order to better interpret the meanings carried by foods in the literature of this period. We will investigate the social, medical, and moral dynamics of food consumption in popular texts that would have had great power to affect and reflect common understandings of the ways bodies and selves were constituted through eating and drinking. We will pay particular attention to Renaissance drama, examining the depiction of both male and female bodies, the language surrounding the visual performance of eating, the presence of fat and emaciated bodies, and the ways in which early modern audiences may have “read” and understood the presence of food on the stage and the page. We will also learn, discuss, and practice research methods, considering the advantages and limitations of applying relevant multidisciplinary sources to literary texts. In doing so, we will seek to gain a nuanced understanding of the experience of food in early modern English culture.
WR 301: Critical Writing in English
This class will ask you to reflect upon what it means to engage in the study of and writing about texts and, in the process, introduce you to the history of, conventions within, and controversies surrounding English as an academic field. We will use the lens of fairy tales, both classical and contemporary and from a variety of cultures, to develop skills in analyzing poetry, prose, and drama; familiarize ourselves with genre; establish a working vocabulary of literary terms; consider historical context as part of the reading experience; and interpret texts critically. We will read a variety of fairy tales in the first half of the term, and will follow the thread of one tale type through the remainder of the term: Aarne-Thompson type 709, Snow White. We will encounter several of the major theoretical approaches to reading and writing about literature practiced by contemporary scholars, which will help you to better understand the secondary sources you will utilize in your research and writing. All the while, you will practice writing based in close reading, interpretation, and careful research through three writing projects designed to give you a solid process-based grounding in the creation of academic arguments. We have a busy term together, but one which, I hope, you will leave with renewed confidence about the disciplinary practices that set English scholars apart. I’m so glad you’re here – welcome!
ENG 507 & 441: Renaissance Women’s Literature
In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf evokes a character – “Shakespeare’s sister” – to illustrate the myriad ways that women writers have historically been rendered invisible. Aided by the theoretical approach of the “hidden transcript,” we will spend the term using reading, writing, early modern journaling practices, and historical recipe preparation to delve into the complexity of Renaissance women’s literature in English. We will seek to answer the question of what constitutes a literary text, addressing issues of authorship, authority, and self-construction.
We will begin our class by working with Mary Baumfylde’s medicinal and culinary recipe book (1626, 1702-1758), which is housed at the Folger Shakespeare Library, V.a. 456 and available fully online. In order to access manuscripts that are not readily available in edited form, we first need to learn to read them using paleography: the study, deciphering, and dating of historical writing and manuscripts. No prior paleographic experience is necessary – this research skill will be a central part of our study for the first several weeks of class. After this term, you may choose to carry forth the skills you’ve developed into a wide range of future research applications, including assisting libraries in making important manuscripts such as women’s writing and anti-slavery documents publicly searchable, for example, or participating in other collaborative digital humanities projects.
After getting our footing in the Baumfylde manuscript, we will continue our transcription and textual editing work while also discussing poetry, drama, and prose by other early modern women writers. Throughout the term, we will also seek to ground ourselves in an understanding of the material culture of daily life for Renaissance women. Coursework will include a collaborative edited edition of selected recipes from the Baumfylde Manuscript, active participation in discussions, a “commonplace book” journaling project mirroring early modern manuscript practices, and a seminar paper. This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for the M.A. in English.
ENG 341U: Renaissance Literature
Selected works of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century literature (c. 1500-1660); introduction to the themes, genres, history and cultures of the Renaissance. This course introduces students to a range of Renaissance works, emphasizing increasing facility in reading the language as well as understanding genre, historical context, and the ways in which texts have taken shape culturally. No prior experience with literature of the period is expected or needed. Our text will be The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume B: The Sixteenth Century / The Early Seventeenth Century, 10th Edition, ISBN 9780393603033. Course work will include response papers, active participation in discussions, and two essays. This course will have required, synchronous weekly meetings on Zoom.
ENG 340U: Medieval Literature [Spring 2021]
Study of medieval literature, including literary genres and themes, historical and cultural contexts, and major authors and movements. Early English literature echoes all around us. In this course, we will undertake a close study of literary works by medieval women and men, paying close attention to both genre and historical context. Our text will be The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages, 10th Edition. Course work will include class participation, short response papers, and multiple drafts of a final interpretive essay. This particular version of the course has grown out of my enjoyment of teaching the material through the lens of a variety of digital adaptations and reflections. We’ll incorporate short clips of these and other media to engage questions of relevance, theme, and critical issues of adaption and relevance for many of our texts. This course is a good fit for anyone who needs or wants to understand more about English literature in the Middle Ages; no prior background in the subject matter or language is required.
ENG 301U: Shakespearean Comedy
In this hybrid course, we will undertake a close study of Shakespeare’s comedies. We will pay attention to the complex and nuanced comic genre, the ways Shakespeare’s comedies evolved throughout the trajectory of his career, how the plays responded to historical context, and how they might be relevant in our current cultural moment. Our text will be The Norton Shakespeare: Comedies, 3rd Edition, as well as some film versions of the plays we’ll study. Coursework will include recorded/captioned lectures and supporting materials for the “hybrid” portion, reading responses, class discussions, multiple drafts of an interpretive essay, and a creative final project that will engage print history and the craft of bookbinding. Absolutely no prior experience with Shakespeare is required – in this course, you will get everything you need to engage, interpret, and (I hope!) enjoy the plays.
ENG 300: Literary Form & Analysis
The stories we tell ourselves are important. This course is about those stories – about how our stories mesh together as a community, and about how we use certain tools and methods to examine more closely the stories and ideas we encounter. Literary texts have value because they reflect and affect our humanity in surprising and sometimes uncomfortable ways. And the best stories, the best arguments, the best theory – all of these things speak to us only when we speak to them. This term, we will begin that process, together. In this class, we will read works of fiction, poetry, and drama; engage ourselves with the “discipline” of literary studies: its methodologies, terms, and theories; develop our skills in close, methodical reading; study and practice the elements of argumentation; and experiment with genres of literary analysis and response. Our textbook will be the Seagull Book of Literature (Stories, Poems, and Plays), selected for its breadth and low cost. Other texts will be recommended, and I will refer you to OER options wherever possible. We will be piloting Canvas LMS, an intuitive and user-friendly platform.
WR 333: Advanced Composition
Essay writing with particular attention to student’s area of specialization. Advanced practice in essay writing. Recommended: Freshman Inquiry or two writing courses. In this class, we will spend the first half of the term studying the personal essay genre and the second half of the term studying the formal essay genre. Students are encouraged to choose topics for their personal and formal essays based upon their own interests and areas of academic specialization. Ultimately, the class is devoted to seeking a greater understanding of the essay form. The text will be the Little Norton Reader. This term, we will be piloting Canvas LMS, an intuitive and user-friendly platform that allows for best practices in writing process instruction.
WR 323: Writing as Critical Inquiry
In this course, we will practice critical inquiry in personal, academic, and professional writing. This is a process-oriented class, which means we will be studying and practicing writing techniques to develop insight into how we function best as writers. We will develop skills in critical reading, thinking and writing. Students will be given reign to choose their own topics within the assignment structures, so our work can encompass personal writing goals. There is no required textbook; all readings will be provided. Required course work will constitute multiple drafts of three essays, peer-review workshops, weekly low-stakes writing assignments, participation in class discussions, and a final self-reflective essay.
WR 300: Professional Writing
Have you ever wished you had a portfolio of tailored professional documents, so that when the perfect opportunity came along, you felt ready? This course focuses on professional writing through a genre theory approach. Together, we will identify and undertake a study of examples of the types of writing required for various professional and scholarly aspirations, which may include (but will not be limited to) resumés/CVs, LinkedIn profiles, emails/letters, reviews, professional websites, grants, and personal statements. This is a process-oriented course that will utilize peer-review writing workshops and extensive revision. Each student will build a portfolio of polished work targeted to their individual goals. This course is a good fit for anyone seeking to transfer academic writing skills to the various sectors of the professional world; English/writing majors and nonmajors alike are welcome.