Ph.D. in Humanities, California Institute of Integral Studies
M.A. in English, San Jose State University
B.A. in English, San Jose State University
Within the field of English studies, my expertise is in the theory and pedagogy of the teaching of literature. As part of this work, I developed a theoretical model of Engaged Reading to explain how avid readers experience transformation and make meaning of their lives by the reading of literature.
My particular era of study is Early Modern English literature, primarily the works of John Donne and William Shakespeare. I have written on the images of spirituality in the poetry of John Donne, particularly the Holy Sonnets and Songs and Sonnets.
I also maintain a lively interest in integral, transformative, and Christian liberal arts education, both in theory and in practice.
In “Burnt Norton, poet T.S. Elion writes: “Except for the point, the still point, / There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.” The metaphor of the still point and the dance offers one of the best images I can think of for my conception of literary studies. The still point is, of course, God, and it is only because of Him that there is anything else. Yet around that “still point of the turning world” there exists the dance, the whirling, gyrating, chaotic, magnificent, almost infinite dance, of which the study of literature is only a small part. William Jessup University provides a place for me to teach the literature that I love to those who love it too, and to teach it in a way that honors both the still point, and the dance.
Favorite Class to Teach
Two of my favorite classes are Foundations of Literature and Shakespeare. Foundations is a survey of the great works of the Western world from Homer through Chaucer and Shakespeare and beyond. We gain an understanding of the great shifts in worldview that have happened over thousands of years, and how those shifts are portrayed, emblemized, and sometimes precipitated by the great literary works of various eras. I especially enjoy the units on Dante’s Inferno and 16th and 17th century poetry. In Shakespeare, we focus on some of the recurring themes and great characterizations of a selection of the plays, noting the development of portrayals of good and evil, conscience, human relationships, suffering, and transcendence. Both classes allow ample room for me to explore and share with students my conception of the potential for literature to serve as a catalyst for transformation.
Every single day, I am inspired by my students and their passion for reading, writing, and engaging in the world, and exploring God, others, and themselves through great literature. I am also inspired by the literary works of those who have traveled ahead of me, poets and writers such as King David, Saint Augustine, Julian of Norwich, William Shakespeare, Theresa of Avila, John Donne, George Herbert, John Milton, Jane Austen, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Marilynne Robinson, and Anne Lamott, to name just a few. Most of the time, I think I have the best job in the world, since I get to combine my passion for literature, my passion for learning, and my passion for students in every class I teach.
I have recently written on John Donne and the blending of images of spirituality and sexuality in his lyrical poetry, both sacred and profane. I am currently writing a book on the teaching of literature to undergraduates, tentatively titled Reconstructing the Reader: A Pedagogy for Engaged Reading. I am also in the process of revising a young adult novel, currently titled Have/Have Not.