Awarded the 2015 Outstanding Teacher of Writing Composition, University of Oregon
The University of Oregon recognizes one teacher each year for their outstanding work in writing and composition. I am honored to have been recognized for my endeavors to center critical analysis in the classroom.
My teaching philosophy is driven by the objective of cultivating critical citizens. Critical citizenship is founded on the belief that teachers in a liberal arts setting have a responsibility not only to content but also to develop the skills necessary to critically examine the contexts that shaped, and are shaping, the text and readers. My core classroom practices are built upon this aim. I address that aim through four core strategies: historicism, modeling, rhetorical criticism, and skill-specific feedback.These strategies have guided my teaching to courses such as Introduction to the English Major; Introduction to Fiction; WRI 121 Sustainability; WRI 121 Poverty and Privilege; WRI 122 What Bodies Count; WRI 122 Social Protest; WRI 123 Research in Bodies of Protest; WRI 123 Research in The Anthropocene, as well as Rhetorical Grammar; European Art as Politics; Knowledge, Rationality and Understanding; and Middle East Studies.
Our contemporary moment is witness to a disorienting explosion of categories and labels – for genre, theory, and disciplines. The question of what is narrative or argument is an important one, but not an important one to rigidly answer. More urgent are the skills of critical analysis to assess the characteristics of a work – the rhetorical strategies, context, history, audience, and structure. Critical analysis and modeling equip us in critique of work and ultimately in examination of the ideologies buttressing assumptions. Through transparency and a demand for critical engagement, students are empowered to do the risky work of becoming better thinkers, readers, writers, and, most importantly, more critical citizens in the many communities to which they belong.
Some useful teaching resources can be found at: