Spirit Photo 1

Spirit Photo 2

Behind the Scenes


Drawing on my skills as a scholar/artist, students in my courses experience how theory necessitates practice. Students don’t simply read and write about photographs, they take them; they don’t simply talk about video games, they play them. My students  read historical and theoretical texts about science and technology, but I also want them to be active participants in theory-making. This necessitates doing. In my courses, students acquire a sense of interdisciplinary play--that one need not be confined to a particular medium, whether it be the novel, photograph, or occult text but can truly engage in interdisciplinary practice.

In the spring of 2015, I taught and developed an English for non-majors course, “American Literature’s Spirits,” which tracked occurrences of the supernatural in American literature and culture from the 19th century to the 21st. My students fully experienced the importance of practice in the online digital archive they curated.  I wanted my students to experience the archives, see and touch rare materials, and then collect their pieces into an online exhibition. We could not simply talk read and talk about the place of the supernatural in American literary and visual culture.

I worked with the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University to help my students to find archival materials. The project required that each student find three pieces from any archive that theorized the supernatural, which would be included in the course’s digital exhibit, “Theorizing the Supernatural.” Using the skills in digital media that I acquired while working at Georgetown University’s Center for New Designs Learning and Scholarship, I designed a course page that is still running, to create an online curation. The site can be found here

Much of my innovations in pedagogy are informed by my time at Georgetown University’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship. As one of two English fellows in the highly competitive scholarship program, I worked in their Communications department where I was involved in a number of university projects, some of which included documenting groundbreaking teaching across the disciplines at the university. While at the center, I spearheaded a project to create a research blog community amongst the graduate students in the Master’s program in English. The success of this project inspired me to incorporate this model while teaching at Duke. I continued my interest and investment in conversations surrounding pedagogy in a digital age while a scholar in the Duke PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge, led by Cathy Davidson. In course evaluations, students express enthusiasm about the "unique" quality of my courses: as one student said, "I really appreciated your efforts to incorporate all sorts of different media in the class to spice things up. The video games, movies, rare book room visit, and music clips were all so fascinating to encounter."