In college and graduate school, my favorite professors were those who, during class and long after, encouraged me to take charge of my learning and prompted me to think critically about myself, my beliefs, literature and the exceedingly complex world in which we live. As such, I am committed to teaching and learning that is accessible while pushing students out of their comfort zones. To do so, I design writing and literature courses that emphasize empathy, diversity and socio-political critique. My irrevocable love and appreciation for dystopian and science fiction often finds its way into my courses as a jumping off point for teaching genre, rhetorical situation, rhetorical analysis, analysis, purpose and critical thinking. It also creates unique ways for students to ruminate on poignant themes and ideas to write and speak about in creative non-fiction projects, academic research essays, service-learning projects, literary analyses, and debate and opposing viewpoint speeches. I am thrilled and grateful that I’ve found a way to connect my research with my pedagogy in ways that are meaningful and important for my students and myself.
While I utilize aspects of dystopian and science fiction in my classes in general ways, the catalyst and heart of my own research within the dystopian genre are complicated female characters. My research is fueled by my interest in intersectional feminism and gender theory and broadly focuses on the examination of women in American, British and World literatures and specifically focuses on the representation of women and agency in 20th and 21st century feminist dystopian novels, film, television, video games and transmedia adaptations. I am tremendously vexed by how often the complex issue of feminist agency is reduced to an overly simplistic binary. My work, which centers around analyses that extend beyond a dichotomous understanding of agency, has been featured in peer-reviewed online gaming journals, such as FemHype and Gamer Women: Where Women and Gaming Unite. I’ve also presented at myriad national and regional conferences on literature and pedagogy, such as MELUS, PCA/ACA, MPCA, SAMLA, NeMLA, CEA, etc.
When I am not teaching or writing academically, I’m most definitely (re)watching something cute, dramatic or political on Netflix, such as Gilmore Girls, Hart of Dixie, Jane the Virgin, Gossip Girl, Parenthood, Call the Midwife, Orange is the New Black, and 13 Reasons Why, etc. If I’m not Netflixing, there’s a strong chance I’m reading or listening to audiobooks because I have a fierce and unyielding love for stories and storytelling of all kinds. While I love the dystopian genre, the truth is that I’m head over heels for the gamut of literature—from contemporary romance to the Victorians, from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou’s poetry, from Edgar Allan Poe to Harry Potter. I love it all. Although, I also must confess, I am forever moved and haunted by Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, which is my favorite book. And if I’m not reading, then I must be writing. One day, I hope to publish a collection of creative non-fiction essays and a feminist dystopian novel and to design a dystopian video game that I can use in my classroom.
Oh, I’m also a diehard Minnesotan, a huge lake snob, and I thoroughly enjoy coffee, chocolate, dogs, hiking and spending time with my husband, Roger.