Visual Literacies in a Digital World

second year integrative perspectives seminar co-taught with Janice Mann (Art & Art History), Bucknell University
Throughout this Integrative Perspectives course, students explored what it means to be a visually literate person in a digital age. Although we are frequent makers and consumers of images through social media and the internet, we don’t really have a full awareness of what images mean. Students were asked to consider the impact their own digital identities, audience, the relationship between word and image, and how some contemporary images engage with and push against old pictorial traditions.

Bot or Not: Technology, Identity, Autonomy

first year composition seminar, Bucknell University
As society becomes more technologically advanced, questions of what counts as human abound. Throughout the course, we will engage with texts that focus on artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, but we will also consider broader questions of how the digital intersects with and impacts other markers of identity. We will critique the historical and cultural development of digital communities. Of particular concern is the digital divide: how society counts (or discounts) groups that lack sufficient access to technology or those who opt out of the widespread integration of the digital in our daily lives.

Shakespeare’s Queer Women

graduate seminar, Hunter College, CUNY
At the end of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, the Duke attempts to establish Mariana’s social status as he asks in succession, “What, are you married? … Are you a maid? … A widow, then?” (5.1.177–180). Mariana responds each time in the negative, leaving the Duke to question, “Why you are nothing then, neither maid, widow, nor wife?” (5.1.183). Lucio suggests that perhaps Mariana is “a punk” (5.1.184), but the Duke quickly dismisses the comment. Though secretly the Duke understands Mariana’s complicated position within the world of the play, his public bewilderment at the notion that a woman can exist beyond the categories traditionally assigned to her—daughter, wife, or widow—highlights the pervasive cultural acceptance of these categories within early modern drama. Throughout this course, then, we will focus on female characters in Shakespeare’s plays that trouble the social divisions of daughters, wives, and widows. In reading Measure for Measure, All’s Well That Ends Well, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, and The Two Noble Kinsmen, we will encounter women who often heed Judith Butler’s warning that “perhaps we make a mistake if we take the definitions of who we are, legally, to be adequate descriptions of what we are about” (Undoing Gender 20). These queer women attempt to negotiate for their own autonomies and identities—often in messy and unsuccessful ways—during a time that would rather discount or discredit their existence and their struggle, or relegate them to a recognizable category based on their relationship to a masculine authority.

Shakespeare Text and Performance

special topics undergraduate seminar, Hunter College, CUNY
Less than seventy years separate the granting of the first royal patent for playing in London in 1574 and the closing of the theatres in 1642; however, the literary and cultural impact of the plays written during this time have left an indelible mark on subsequent generations. This course has a threefold purpose: We will consider the nature of performance in Shakespeare’s time, including playhouse practices. We will discuss the challenges and advantages of modern productions and how modern theater, film, and television, alter our perspective of the plays. And, most importantly, we will spend time attending to the text as both a work of literature and as a map for performance. This course will cover four plays: Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Othello. Students will be required to attend at least one live Shakespeare performance outside of class, as well as give a presentation on a modern film adaptation.

Shakespeare II: The Later Plays

upper division undergraduate seminar, Hunter College, CUNY
This course will focus on Shakespeare’s plays written during the reign of James I. Plays covered include: Macbeth, King Lear, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest, and The Two Noble Kinsmen. Beyond grappling with Shakespeare’s language, throughout the semester we will discuss political, cultural, and theatrical changes that influence the texts. We will look at issues of print production, revision, and collaboration. We will also touch on Shakespeare’s influence on subsequent generations as seen in theatre, music, art, literature, and film inspired by his works.

Survey of English Literature: Anglo Saxon to Romanticism

upper division undergraduate seminar, Hunter College, CUNY
Literary Geometry. The Oxford English Dictionary defines Geometry as “[t]he science which investigates the properties and relations of magnitudes in space, as lines, surfaces, and solids” and notes that the term also applies “to the relative arrangement of objects or constituent parts” (OED 1a, 1b). Drawing on this definition, I propose that literary geometry is an approach to reading texts which “investigates the properties” of relationships within and surrounding literature, and “the relative arrangement” of people and their “constituent parts.” Broadly conceived, then, throughout this term we will explore relationships between people—friendships, love triangles, familial bonds, homosocial unions—within the texts, as well as the historical relationships and social influences that helped form and inform the works. In this course we will cover both the complexities of the unions within the text, as well as the ramifications of political, social, and religious shifts within the various time periods in hopes of understanding how changes in British literature mirrors and/or resists cultural movements.