Category Archives: research

Engagements with Narrative On Its Way

I turned in “Engagements with Narrative” to Routledge this past week.  Check out the blurb here!

Where to Find Me, Spring 2015 Edition

Hoping to finish a few projects over winter break, including an article on the film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and a (long in process) book proposal.  Looking forward to:

  • the annual conference of the International Society for the Study of Narrative in Chicago, where I’ll be speaking on memoirs of widowhood
  • the annual conference of The Space Between, as well as getting the digital journal up and running!
  • the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria

Happy end of semester!

Mapping a Promotion Portfolio

I just got back from the AAC&U Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success at Vanderbilt University.  While I learned a great deal about HIPs, and about what it means to make meaningful interventions in student learning at the institutional level, I also learned a cool tool:  Cmap.  A wide variety of uses for teaching and scholarship were immediately apparent, but I also got a good idea from, Tim Eatman, the faculty member who taught the tool to my team:  using it to visualize a promotion portfolio.

One of my challenges as I’m preparing to apply for full professor this fall is making sense of the range of post-tenure activities in which I’ve participated over the last six or so years.  I pursued these avenues in a way that felt very intentional to me, but I’m not sure that will be visible to my P & T committees.  There’s a mix of traditional scholarship and online interventions, teaching experiments and campus service, public engagement in the arts and culture sector throughout the Philadelphia region…where’s the narrative?  What’s the guiding principle to the work I’ve been doing?

So, over the next few months as I’m putting together my application, I’ll also be creating a Cmap, which I’ll include in my documents and publish here once it’s done.  My focus question will be:   How does an academic in literature and the humanities shape a career committed to literary study, public engagement, student success, and institutional health?  Mapping the nodes and connections I’ve built over time will show — I hope — how these elements can be integrated and a case for their value as a whole can be made.


Where to Find Me, Spring 2014 Edition

Winding down a semester that saw a lot of excitement:  the inaugural semester of our First-Year Common Experience (featuring a lecture by Ta-Nehisi Coates), an exhibition of the work of Norman Rubington,  writing, teaching — all culminating in great thesis presentations by our senior English majors…and a departmental assessment report.  I know that last one sounds less than thrilling, but it’s prompted some really productive conversations in our department around teaching and learning.

Speaking of — looking forward to debuting a new course on Graphic Narrative this spring.  I’m trying a few new things, involving students earlier in the design, planning a Google Hangout panel chat (hopefully with Comics Grid colleagues), and some reflective journaling.

Lots of traveling, too — a sample:

  • The pre-meeting symposium at the AAC&U Annual Meeting:  “New Designs for Integrative Learning,” January in DC
  • A paper on Leann Shapton at the 2014 Narrative conference, March at MIT
  • Keynoting at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature, April at University of Portland

As always, you can find me over at Inside Higher Ed/University of Venus.

Room at the Top: New Edition from Valancourt Books

One of the projects I got to work on this spring was an introduction to a new US edition of John Braine’s 1957 novel Room at the Top.  The edition is coming from Valancourt Books, a specialty micropress focusing on new editions of rare 18th, 19th, and 20th century literature, especially Gothic, weird, supernatural, mystery, and queer literature.  Braine’s novel is a classic of mid-century British fiction, part of a moment  loosely called the Angry Young Men.  It was also made into an equally significant film of the British New Wave.

image from the Valancourt Books website

image from the Valancourt Books website

The novel tells the story of Joe Lampton; at the start of the novel, set in the present, he is successful but complacent, looking back at his ambitious youthful self ten years earlier with a mixture of admiration and scorn.  The narrative unfolds in a tracing of his rise to affluence and the women he loved, lost, and used to get there.  Room at the Top is a compelling look at the moral implications of a society defined by increasing affluence and the stark gap between haves and have-nots.  It asks whether material success and comfort is worth the loss of your soul.

While this is a little outside my usual areas of research, I do teach the Angry Young Men and British New Wave, and it was a real pleasure to delve into Braine’s career and think about this novel.  I’m happy to see it back in print and available from Valancourt–with the original cover art from the first edition.

Where to Find Me this Semester, Online and Off

In addition to finding me in the classroom, you’ll be able to find me in assessment meetings as we revise our first-year writing program and our departmental goals and objectives — and hopefully you’ll find me in my office making some long-awaited progress on Erotic Biography.

Online and off, I’ll be:

  • Attending the Annual Meeting for the National Humanities Alliance/Humanities Advocacy Day in March once again;
  • Working on an introduction for the Valancourt Books edition of John Braine’s Room at the Top;
  • And, of course, blogging at Inside Higher Ed/University of Venus

Also: watch the Widener English blog this January for writing from my fall semester students on why we read — and need — fiction.


THATCamp Philly 2012

Looking forward to the return of THATCamp Philly on September 29th.  I’ve proposed an idea for a session on using digital archives in research and teaching: check it out.