Hello! I am excited to be working with you this semester. This page is a repository for things I share with students often. If it looks like I’m missing something, just let me know.

Writing resources

Sentence stress and the "known-new contract" (PDF download) — if you only read one thing, make it this! Students often find it very helpful to think about how sentences work, and how to use simple sentences to convey complex ideas.

The "reverse U" paragraph structure — If you're getting feedback that your argument is not clear, or that it is just plot summary, the problem may lie in paragraph structures.

Reverse outlining — If you're getting comments about an unclear essay flow, or paragraphs that seem unrelated, this editing technique can help you examine your essay's structural organization.

Course policies

My office hours: I am always happy to meet, but I don’t have formally scheduled office hours. Please arrange an appointment via email, or through this online service.

My extension philosophy: Anybody can have an extension of up to a week, for any reason, as long as you send me a request by email more than one hour prior to the deadline. When you email, specify what new date & time I should expect the assignment. I neither require nor desire notes or explanations. If there is less than an hour until the deadline (or the deadline has passed), I will still grant extensions, with a minor partial late penalty: one of the important skills this extension policy is meant to reward, is the ability to accurately assess what you need in order to complete your work well.

My participation philosophy: Literary study is an inherently conversational field. In order for students to be participating in the study of English, they must be formulating their own ideas about the texts we read, and expressing those ideas in relation to others’ ideas. However, I understand that verbal expression in the tutorial classroom is not always easy. I am always happy to meet (or exchange emails) to discuss alternate modes of “participation,” which I define as “conversational engagement with literature.”

As a general rule, I accept comments by email as “participation.” High-quality email participation will mention particularly memorable or confusing parts of a text, points of agreement or disagreement with ideas expressed in the class, and/or specific questions or talking points for further discussion. Ideally, these emails would be sent a few hours before a class session (so I have time to read them and incorporate them into the discussion), but it can also be valuable to send “post-mortem” emails directly after class (a tutorial or a lecture) commenting on the material discussed.

I do not consider discussion of an assignment-in-progress to be “participation,” whether it occurs by email or in person, since these conversations focus on skill-building rather than conversational engagement with literature. However, discussions in office hours not tied to a specific assignment are the purest form of conversational engagement! If you would like to meet and chat for fifteen minutes about something you read that you found interesting, I would be delighted to hear you. A high-quality office hours conversation will involve you talking at least as much as I do, which means preparing observations and hypotheses, not just questions. It can be particularly successful for two students who are friends to come to office hours together for this kind of conversation.