Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching (HILT)

Course description from our site:

“This course introduces participants to humanities programming through the use of Python for data acquisition, cleaning, and analysis. The course assumes no prior technical knowledge and will focus on accomplishing basic research tasks. Students should walk away feeling equipped to tackle a variety of typical problems that arise for digital humanists.

We will discuss programming and debugging concepts through the design, implementation, and presentation of small text analysis projects. Primary technologies and topics covered in this course will include the command line, Git, GitHub, and Python; working with data sources such as API’s, CSV files, and data scraped from the web; and basic text analysis. Over the course of the week, we will work with data from DPLA and Project Gutenberg. If the words above mean nothing to you, don’t panic—this course is for you.”

The University of Virginia

  • ENLT 2514: “The Western and the West”
    • (Instructor, Fall 2016; Spring 2017; introductory literature seminar on modern American authors)

Posses, shootouts, and the frontier–loners, violence, and the law. Or is it family, legacy, and society–storytellers, safety, and a warm hearth? What is a western? What is the West, and why do we keep writing stories about it? This course explores where myth and reality meet on the horizon of the American West, the staying power of the stories that have been imagined out of it, and how modern writers adapt, challenge, and disrupt the legacies of both. Themes include: the frontier, violence, gender, indigeneity, legacies of colonialism, legacies of slavery, and the present-day consequences of American colonial expansion.


  • ENWR 1510: “The University”
    • (Instructor, Spring 2015; academic writing course.)

This section of ENWR 1510 will focus on writing concerned with the university. We will read classic texts that have left their mark on discussions of the university, newer texts concerned with more topical issues, as well as representations of the university in the arts. These writings will come in a variety of genres and be intended for a variety of audiences, from academic articles and newspaper op-eds to postmodern novels and contemporary cinema. These readings are not “experts” you will be asked to agree with and emulate, but rather resources to help us think about the problems we will address in this course as well as how to write about them. If you feel like being critical of something I have assigned, I encourage you to do so.


  • ENWR 1510: “Writing About Travel”
    • (Instructor, Fall 2014; academic writing course)

This section of ENWR 1510 will focus on writing concerned with travel in a broad sense. By this I mean not only traveling across the borders between states or countries, but borders, boundaries, and meaningful distances of all kinds. We will read great examples of traditional travel writing as well as writing about less conventional kinds of travel. These writings will come in a variety of genres, from short stories and stand-up routines to critical theory, anthropological studies, and Hollywood blockbusters. They will include examples of travel writing as well critiques of travel writing.


Prospective courses

  • “The Protest Novel, Redux”
    • (Prospective upper-level literature seminar in modern & contemporary American literature)

What is a protest novel? What does it mean to protest with a novel, and how do writers go about doing so? Bestsellers like The Jungle and Native Son became household names for exposing social ills and the plights of groups marginalized by American society. But many of these texts stand accused of being melodramatic, heavy-handed, or moralizing—too much politics, not enough art. So which is it—do these accusations hold any water? Is there a right and wrong recipe for making politically-engaged art? If the debates still surrounding these questions today are any indication, it probably depends on who you ask. In this course, we will explore the tradition of articulating political discontent through novels in 20th and 21st-century America. We read classic protest novels like Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940) and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939), but pair them with critically-acclaimed novels from the present that tackle related political issues head-on, such as Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (2016) and Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones (2011). These texts, then and now, provoke us to radically rethink our place in the world, inviting outrage, understanding, and an often fraught sense of sympathy. With this in mind, the course hopes not only to contemplate the long-standing institution of radical social literature in America, but to introduce students to the prickly intersections of aesthetics and politics from which these texts draw their significance.

  • “Books that Know They’re Books”
    • (Prospective introductory literature seminar)

Books are physical objects. We stack them in piles and shelves, mark them with ink and coffee, and lug them from libraries to favorite reading spots. After settling in with a good book, however, these realities often fade into the background—we become engrossed, absorbed, spirited away by the world of a literary work. At these moments, reminders of a book’s physicality (a previous user’s penchant for colorful marginalia, for instance) often serve as an interruption rather than an accompaniment to our reading experience. In this course, we seek out the long history of literary works that refuse to let their material trappings fade into the background. Instead, these texts spotlight their physical forms, leaning in to the knowledge that they will be held, flipped through, staged, read aloud, and skimmed. We read novels that make high drama out of textual apparatuses and expository footnotes (e.g. Nabokov’s Pale Fire), theater that unravels the circumstances of its own production (e.g. Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author), poetry that sounds like it was written by a computer program and not a poet (e.g. Stein’s Tender Buttons), literary puzzles that are also physical puzzles (e.g. Anne Carson’s Nox), and horror stories that reveal the physical book itself to be the most frightening monster of all (e.g. Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves). As a whole, these texts prompt us to radically rethink our relationship to the works of art we read and the textual documents from which they emerge.