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TEACHING STATEMENT

My interests as a teacher are informed by the work I do as a writer. I have taught college-level courses on gothic horror and monsters of the literary imagination as well as creative writing workshops in short fiction and poetry. For every workshop I teach, I strive to create a community-oriented environment that prioritizes thoughtfulness and respect, acknowledges and is sensitive to the needs of individuals from , and allows its participants to safely practice curiosity, discovery, and creative risk-taking.
 
At the introductory level, my goal as an instructor is for students to conclude a semester of workshop with an enhanced sense of self-understanding and a newfound or renewed sense of excitement about reading and writing fiction. To that end, I place special emphasis on continually curating (and updating) the assigned texts of an introductory workshop to ensure an eclectic mix of living authors with varying ages, identities, and interests working across a range of genres and modes. I often pair a group of short stories by contemporary authors with at least one thematically or formally relevant work from decades or centuries past to suggest a kind of literary dialogue through the ages -- and, in some cases, to demonstrate how writers today might renovate or subvert old structures, plots, archetypes and conceits to suit their own aesthetic and political concerns or to reflect their lived experience. Readings are complemented by short weekly creative writing exercises that ask students to respond to or imitate an aspect of craft present in one or more of the texts. These guided assignments offer structure to those who prefer to work from prompts: students may then choose to expand an assignment into a full short story for workshop or to write a story on their own.

At the intermediate or advanced level, I hope to provide emerging writers with opportunities to hone the ways in which they articulate the mechanisms of craft present in their work while encouraging them to consider new methods of exploring their unique literary obsessions. Among such methods might be a shift in genre, form, perspective, or tense; a series of conversations informed by new reading material or by a guest speaker; identifying and attempting different approaches to revision and reflecting upon the results; or some individualized assignment or series of assignments designed to meet the needs of a student who has already cultivated a specific set of literary interests. 


I strongly believe that at all levels of instruction, the learning goals of a creative writing student are intensely personal and as much emotional as intellectual. In a workshop, I feel it is most effective to assume the role of "facilitator" rather than "teacher," using my experience as a writer (and as a lifelong student of writing myself!) to help students make valuable connections to their own experiences, imaginations and ingenuity.
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