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Courses Taught

Deadly Entertainment: Analyzing True Crime Media

Georgia Tech, Summer 2023 and Fall 2023

University of Florida, Fall 2021

As the adage “If it bleeds, it leads” suggests, an uneasy fascination with crime, murder, and violence preoccupies American culture and media. From the colonial period to the present day, true crime narratives have simultaneously disgusted, riveted, and terrified their (primarily female) audiences. Critics have denounced the genre as trash culture that glorifies crime and merely seeks to titillate spectators. However, these real-life crime stories also invite readers to contemplate the psychology of people who engage in transgressive behavior that violates societal norms.

This course will examine the evolution of the true crime genre throughout American history in order to explore how these narratives reveal changing attitudes about gender, mental illness, morality, and race. Throughout the semester, our analyses will center on three pressing questions:

  1. How do these gruesome narratives reveal shifting societal anxieties surrounding crime, discipline, and trauma?
  2. How does true crime perpetuate, complicate, or refute harmful stereotypes about marginalized groups, such as LGBTQ people and people of color?  
  3. What are the ethics of consuming sensationalized tales of real-world tragedies?

As we address these questions, this course will provide numerous opportunities for you to become a more effective communicator using Georgia Tech’s WOVEN (Written, Oral, Visual, Electronic, and Nonverbal) approach. Working individually and in small groups, you will use WOVEN methods to create a variety of artifacts that explore the true crime genre. Assignments for the class will include zines, podcasts, flash writing essays, presentations, reflection essays, and videos. By the end of the semester, you will have gained valuable collaboration, communication, critical thinking, digital, and multimodal skills that will benefit you in your personal and professional lives.

Nature Fights Back: Ecohorror Narratives

Georgia Tech, Fall 2022 and Spring 2023

Narratives about the environment often focus on the horrors that humans inflict on nature. In ecohorror stories, however, nature fights back—often in gruesome, shocking ways. In this course, we will take Georgia Tech’s WOVEN (Written, Oral, Visual, Electronic, and Nonverbal) approach to explore the ecohorror genre through a series of comics, films, novels, video games, and other texts. Through our class discussions and multimodal projects, we will analyze how ecohorror reflects evolving anxieties about climate change, environmental issues, and humanity’s place in nature. We will examine how ecohorror creators adapt and subvert tropes from horror, science fiction, and other genres to critique environmental issues. And we will explore how ecohorror highlights the links between environmental problems and poverty, racism, sexism, and other social injustices.  

Critical questions that we will consider throughout the semester include: As we address these questions, this course will provide numerous opportunities for you to become a more effective communicator. Working individually and in small groups, you will use WOVEN methods to create a variety of artifacts that explore the ecohorror genre. Assignments for the class will include zines, curated digital exhibits, flash writing essays, presentations, reflection essays, and videos.

Envisioning Environmental Disaster in Children’s Literature

University of Florida, Spring 2021 (online)

Course Syllabus

February 15, 2019: Protestors with banners at a Youth Strike for Climate march in London

“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope, but I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is” — Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, 2019 World Economic Forum

As the global climate emergency accelerates in the twenty-first century, it has become increasingly evident that environmental disasters and extreme weather will disrupt the lives of many of today’s children. In response to this developing crisis, environmental children’s literature has proliferated in the last twenty years as creators seek to educate young readers about the natural world and promote youth eco-activism. This course will examine how contemporary children’s literature from a range of genres and mediums invite readers to grapple with complex environmental issues, such as habitat destruction, plastic pollution, and overfishing. Throughout the semester, our inquiries will center on three pressing questions: How do the formal and narrative properties of comics, novels, picture books, and other media shape how these texts represent abstract and unsettling environmental problems? How do these texts and their paratexts empower (or, in some cases, disempower) children to enact meaningful environmental change? And, finally, how can environmental children’s literature motivate action and convey urgency without inducing feelings of overwhelming anxiety or despair in young readers?

Multimodal Writing / Digital Literacy

University of Florida, Fall 2020 (online)

Course Syllabus

Multimodal Composition teaches digital literacy and digital creativity. This course teaches students to compose and circulate multimodal documents in order to convey creative, well- researched, carefully crafted, and attentively written information through digital platforms and multimodal documents. This course promotes digital writing and research as central to academic, civic, and personal expression. Assignments will include a Twine game, an Image/Text project, podcast episodes, and an audiovisual project.

Writing About Body Horror

University of Florida, Spring 2020 (second half of semester online)

Course Syllabus

Reveling in the disgusting and the taboo, body horror evokes fear and revulsion in equal measures through graphic depictions of deformed, diseased, and mutated human bodies. Here, death and destruction come not at the hands of a knife-wielding killer or a vengeful spirit, but from within as one’s own treacherous body transforms uncontrollably into a gruesome new form. While body horror is traditionally associated with films such as John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986), the genre has infiltrated a variety of mediums, appearing in comics, music videos, science fiction novels, and even Skittles advertisements. Why do we continue to read and watch these nauseating narratives, even as their grotesque displays of ruined bodies dare us to turn away? 

This course will explore how body horror texts from a range of historical periods and mediums expose shifting societal anxieties surrounding corporeal and historical traumas. Throughout the course, our class discussions and written analyses will devote particular attention to the ways that body horror depicts marginalized bodies, centering on three primary questions: 

  1. How does body horror serve as a dark mirror that reflects cultural preoccupations with embodiment?
  2. Whose bodies do the texts subject to transformation, and how do these horrifying representations intersect with issues surrounding age, disability, gender, race, sexuality, and trauma? 
  3. What are the ethics of consuming these revolting narratives, particularly when they exploit or perpetuate stereotypes about marginalized groups? 

Introduction to Literature

University of Florida, Fall 2019

Course Syllabus

This course examines the role literature has played in individuals’ lives and in society. It is centered on three questions: What is literature? Why do we write literature? And why do we read literature? LIT 2000 introduces students to a diverse range of literary genres, from different national traditions and historical periods. Among the primary aims of this course is to help students develop critical skills of literary analysis and interpretation. Students will also learn how formal and stylistic elements as well as historical contexts shape the meaning and significance of literature. By becoming more skillful readers of literature and its contexts, students become better readers of the worlds that literature addresses, develop their ability to decipher meaning from language, and better understand their own relationship to science, technology, media, commerce, and politics.