Teaching Interests: I teach Writing 5 and Writing 7.
In both courses I teach composition as way of coming to terms with complexity; my students work, often collaboratively, to develop strategies for approaching difficult problems in a variety of disciplines. I help them take advantage, strategically and deliberately, of two universal, though largely unconscious, human capacities: the capacity to perceive patterns in complex environments and the capacity to formulate (often instantaneously) guiding hypotheses which account for those patterns and render the complexity navigable.
In both courses I help students develop composing processes that move back and forth between the kind of hard-edged, logical, sequential thinking they imagine is typically ‘academic’ and a softer, more diffuse and intuitive thinking which allows tired thoughts to rearrange themselves into something new.
In both courses I encourage my students to encounter their own inwardness – their intellectual habits, their unconscious assumptions, their desires, resistances and fears – through disciplined encounters with richly human texts.
Recent Course Titles: Dream Texts: An Interdisciplinary Look at Dreams and Dreaming// Systems that Eat Themselves: Beowulf, The Interpretation of Dreams, and the Sub-prime Mortgage Crisis// Dartmouth Writers: Writing Process Across the Disciplines// Reading and Writing the Iliad: Translation and Interpretation in Lattimore and Pope// Drama and Trauma: Dionysus, Trauma Theory and Greek Tragedy
Informing Interests: Writing: I write because I am unhappy when I don’t and because writing helps my teaching – a lot. The aggravating messiness of my own composing process keeps me honest. When I am writing, I am far less likely to make unrealistic demands of my students or give them over-elaborated assignments and naïve advice. In the past I have published poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. I am currently working on a memoir and regularly exchange manuscripts with other writers.
Reading: I am interested in classic, modern and post-modern understandings of trauma, violence and loss. Therefore I have for several years been pursuing three lines of reading:
1. Psychoanalytic theory -- both classical (Freud, Jung, Klein, Winnicott) and European (Lacan, Kristeva).
2. Attic Tragedy (I have learned Ancient Greek the better to get inside these texts).
3. Theology – St. Augustine through John D. Caputo.