I am an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M in the English Department. My current research project focuses on the rhetoric of transhumanism, but I am broadly interested in the reshaping of rhetoric, discourse, and identity in the face of digital technologies. My research and pedagogical work touches on facets of digital rhetoric, digital humanities, emerging media, and technical communications.
Book In Progress
My current book project explores the rhetoric of the transhumanism movement with regards specifically to its Utopian content.
Book In Progress
This project develops the rhetorical mode of “evolutionary futurism” and the rhetoric of the transhumanist movement. While transhumanism is usually dismissed by scholars of rhetoric, technology, and culture as a fringe movement with limited scope, my project instead argues that “transhumanism” is a name for a much more pervasive rhetorical mode that considers technology as a vector for evolutionary change operating on society, consciousness, and biology. I call this rhetorical mode “evolutionary futurism,” and, in tracing this formation throughout 20th and 21st century culture, I suggest that transhumanism, rather than a fringe movement of renegade scientists and philosophers, is actually a postmodern form of Utopia in line with Fredric Jameson’s discussion of the concept in Postmodernism.
My book then traces the rhetorical, Utopian mode I call “evolutionary futurism” through a number of important moments in the 20th and 21st centuries.
- The relationship between theosophy and evolutionary biology in the 1920s and 30s. This connection suggests that more than just a theory of genetic evolution, transhumanism authors a theory of cognitive and spiritual evolution.
- The role of evolutionary futurism in the “superman” boom of American science fiction during the 1930s and 40s. From these tales of genetic supermen, I discuss how writers of this period, including AE van Vogt and Isaac Asimov, inspired a host of utopian communities dedicated to the evolution of human consciousness.
- The shape of the contemporary transhumanist movement, as exemplified by Raymond Kurzweil, technologist and author of The Singularity is Near. This chapter specifically considers the relationship between Kurzweil’s singularitarian philosophy and Ayn Rand’s objectivism. In doing so, I highlight the selfishness problem present in contemporary evolutionary futurism.
- The importance of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the paleontologist and Jesuit theologian who first coined the term “transhumanism,” as a thinker of contemporary Utopia. In Teilhard’s transhumanism, the suffering of a “cosmic Christ” becomes the model for individuals’ struggle, on behalf of all mankind, with evolutionary advancement.
- The role of aesthetics in actualizing contemporary transhumanism. This chapter considers both “high” and “low” online art, in the form of The New Aesthetic and meme culture, as tools designed to visualize and focus an emerging cosmic consciousness.
My goals in teaching classes in both rhetoric and literature are intimately connected with my research interests.
“His dream was not so much to give a lecture to humans as to provide a program for pure computers.”—Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
My goals in teaching classes in both rhetoric and literature are intimately connected with my research interests. In my dissertation, I write about “transhumanism,” a discursive community aimed at grappling with humans as objects of ongoing evolutionary processes. Often, these evolutionary processes have, specifically, to do with the evolutionary pressures exerted by new and emerging, digital technologies. As such, my motivation as a teacher is to better equip my students to deal with these pressures. Overall, I view my teaching as a chance to direct students in ways of living in a digital media ecology and preparing them for a future of ongoing, accelerating technological change.
This goal expresses itself differently, depending on the class being taught. For instance, in teaching Technical Communication, which I have done four times so far, I made an interesting discovery regarding my students and their attitudes towards writing. In conducting classroom discussion, I found that, thanks to Penn State’s various internship and co-op programs, my students mostly had experience writing in a professional, scientific capacity. What they lacked, however, was basic knowledge of digital document production. As such, I’ve retooled my teaching of this subject to focus on combining content production and document design. In this fashion, students spend as much time focusing on how they write as on what they write. The class includes assignments in both report writing and webpage design. I find that students benefit more from this approach, as they can leave my course with marketable, new media skills in addition to a better understanding of the rhetorical stakes of technical writing. More importantly, I stress the importance of developing digital problem solving strategies, rather than specific tool use, so that students in my classes can be better prepared for a changing, evolving digital workplace.
My teaching of science fiction, which is a new experience for me, affords another opportunity for dealing pedagogically with the tenants of transhumanism. Where the technical communications classroom becomes a workshop for applied transhumanism, I view the science fiction classroom as focusing on the philosophical implications of this discourse. By focusing on close analysis of various texts that grapple with the nature of a radically altered future, I attempt to direct students toward thinking seriously about the ethical, moral, and philosophical issues raised by the rapid technological change experienced by the United States following World War II (which corresponds to the high point of American SF). Additionally, as many of these processes of change and acceleration are ongoing (especially with regards to emerging Internet technologies and mobile computing), I view science fiction pedagogy as an opportunity to raise my students’ awareness that the issues raised in SF are, increasingly, being raised in their lives and their futures.
In both of these cases, I find focusing on the ongoing evolution of the human condition, by viewing my pedagogy from a transhuman perspective, both personally rewarding and hugely beneficial to my students in the classroom and beyond. While also helping them learn the course material at hand, my transhuman perspective allows students to step out of the classroom and the university with highly valuable “take-away” skills that can be applied in their future lives as students and as professionals. As such, I look forward to continue to explore this perspective in new and exciting pedagogical environments.
View my CV.
Assistant Professor of English
Department of English
Texas A&M University
|Assistant Professor||Texas A&M University||2015-Present|
|Assistant Professor||Arizona State University||2012-2015|
|Fixed-Term Lecturer||Pennsylvania State University||2011-2012|
|Graduate Teaching Fellow||Pennsylvania State University||2005-2011|
|PhD, English||Pennsylvania State University||May 2011|
- Dissertation: Transhumanism: Evolutionary Logic, Rhetoric, and the Future
- Committee: Richard Doyle (Director), Jeffrey Nealon, Mark Morrisson, Robert Yarber.
|MA, English||Pennsylvania State University||May 2007|
|BS, Computer Science||Georgia Institute of Technology||May 2005|
|BS, Science Technology & Culture||Georgia Institute of Technology||May 2005|
Current Book Project
Transhumanism: The Rhetoric of Evolutionary Futurism
Six Chapter Manuscript, Under Contract with University of Minnesota Press—Book explores the rhetorical history of “evolutionary futurism,” a twentieth century Utopian rhetorical mode associating advancing telecommunications technologies with biological evolution to suggest near-future radical shifts in human existence and cognition. Tracing this rhetoric of transhumanism, chapters explore the evolutionary futurism of theosophy, 1940s science fiction, Raymond Kurzweil, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In addition to a theoretical introduction, the book also contains an extended discussion of contemporary digital aesthetics as transhuman vectors of evolutionary overcoming.
Articles & Chapters
“Life During Wartime: Science Fiction during and after World War II.” Chapter in The Cambridge History of Science Fiction eds. Gerry Canavan and Eric Carl Link. (Collection Under Contract with Cambridge UP; Forthcoming, 2017).
“‘We twiddle…and turn into machines’: Mina Loy, HTML, and the Machining of Information.” Chapter in Reading Modernism with Machines eds. Shawna Ross & James O’Sullivan. (Collection Under Contract with Palgrave; Forthcoming, 2016).
“Insect Capital.” New American Notes Online (NANO) 8 (2015).
“Fan Utopias and Self-Help Supermen: Political Utopianism in WWII-era SF.” Science Fiction Studies 41.3 (2014): 524-542.
“After ‘The’ ‘Text’: A Review of Comparative Textual Media.” Review of Comparative Textual Media edited by N. Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman. Enculturation (2016).
“Review of MP3: The Meaning of a Format by Jonathan Sterne.” Information Society 29.5 (2013): 316-317.
“Review of Slime Dynamics by Ben Woodard.” Itineration, 2013.
- Review uses an exploratory hypertext framework to rethink the possibilities of the book review.
“A Review of The Breakup 2.0 by Illana Gershon.” Information Society 28.2 (2012): 126-127.
“Contagious Narratives: Towards a Global Epidemiology in Priscilla Wald’s Contagious.” Review Of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative by Priscilla Wald. BioSocieties 4.2-3 (2009): 326-328.
“When the Coffee Machine Is Just a Human.” An Object Lesson for The Atlantic (January 28, 2016).
Online Editions & Open Source Software
Mina Loy Online. A collection of poems and manifestoes by avant-garde modernist Mina Loy, posted online in an open-access, typographically correct format. http://oncomouse.github.io/loy.
Open Source Software
The Goldilocks Approach SASS, Lead Developer. Open source port of The Goldilocks Approach (a CSS responsive design framework) to SASS (a CSS preprocessor used throughout the web development industry).
Grants & Awards
Co-author. “Toward a Digital Henry James.” With Shawna Ross, College of Letters & Science at ASU. ASU Institute for Humanities Research Seed Grant, Fall 2014. Awarded.
Co-author. “Toward a Digital Henry James.” With Shawna Ross, College of Letters & Science at ASU. ASU Institute for Humanities Research Seed Grant, Spring 2013. Revise and Resubmit.
SLS Faculty Summer Research Initiative, 2013 & 2014. (Arizona State)
Wilma Ebbitt Graduate Award in Rhetorical Studies, 2010. (Penn State)
Philip Young Memorial Endowment in American Literature, 2006. (Penn State)
Invited Talks & Conference Presentations
“The What, Why, and How of Net Neutrality.” New York Times Café. ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus. 2014.
“‘The sharpest part of my skeleton’: Digital Surrealism, Weird Posthumanism, and Performing Theory.” Computers & Writing 2016 Conference, Rochester, NY, 2016 (accepted).
“Lachrymator: Persuasion’s Tear Gas.” 17th Biennial RSA Conference, Atlanta, GA, 2016 (accepted).
“The Rhetorical Future of the Soul at Work.” 17th Biennial RSA Conference, Atlanta, GA, 2016 (accepted).
Chair and Organizer, Critical Informatics and the Digital Humanities. 131st MLA Annual Convention, Austin, TX, 2016.
“Worlds Without Us: The Horror of Indifference in The Southern Reach Trilogy“ The Society For Literature, Science, and the Arts 2015 Conference, Houston, TX, 2015.
“Interpretation Comes Alive” The Conference on College Composition and Communication, Tampa, FL, 2015.
Roundtable Participant, “Approaching The Peripheral: First Responses to William Gibson’s New Novel” 130th MLA Annual Convention, Vancouver, BC, 2015.
“Sex and the Singularity: On The Reproduction of Software Objects” 130th MLA Annual Convention, Vancouver, BC, 2015.
“Coffee Futurism” The Society For Literature, Science, and the Arts 2014 Conference, Dallas, TX, 2014.
“Posthuman, Nonhuman, Inhuman: Toward An Eldritch Rhetoric” 16th Biennial RSA Conference, San Antonio, TX, 2014.
“Polynesian Paralysis” Cocktail Culture: A Conference, Louisville, KY, 2014.
“How Did I Get Here?: GPS, Surveillance Culture, and Personal Narrative” The Conference on College Composition and Communication, Indianapolis, IN, 2014.
“Shooting at Agency” Western States Rhetoric and Literacy Conference 2013, Salt Lake City, UT, 2013.
“‘I am afraid of a draught of cool air’: Lovecraft, Air Conditioning, and Autophagic Modernity” The Society For Literature, Science, and the Arts 2013 Conference, South Bend, IN, 2013.
“When Writing is no Longer Writing: Institutions, Objects, Disciplines” Computers and Writing 2013 Conference, Frostberg, MD, 2013.
“Thinking Different: Primitive Accumulation, Cognitive Economies, and the Quest for a More Perfect Mind” 15th Biennial RSA Conference, Philadelphia, PA, 2012.
“Becoming Object: Facebook, Life Writing, and Tool-Being” The Conference on College Composition and Communication, St. Louis, MA, 2012.
“As Study or As Paradigm?: Humanities and the Uptake of Emerging Technologies,” 127th MLA Annual Convention, Seattle, WA, 2012.
“Remixing ‘Technical Communication’: Design, Techné, and the Production of Documents,” The Conference on College Composition and Communication, Louisville, KY, 2010.
“He Called It ‘Utopia’: Jameson’s Social and Vedic Transhumanism,” The Society For Literature, Science, and the Arts 2009 Conference, Atlanta, GA, 2009.
“Utopia.com: Fredric Jameson and Piracy Online,” The Society For Literature, Science, and the Arts 2007 Conference, Portland, ME, 2007.
“Revising Tomorrow: the Historical Present, Telecommunications, and Capitalism in Nova and Neuromancer,” Samuel Delany: A Critical Symposium, University at Buffalo (State University of New York), 2006.
Teaching Experience (27 Sections; 12 Courses; 949 Students)
Texas A&M University (4 Sections; 3 Courses; 77 Students)
Graduate Directed Study: History and Theory of Rhetoric (1 Section; 2 Students) – Graduate directed reading focusing on the history of rhetoric from ancient Greece through the Enlightenment and contemporary articulations of those concepts in rhetoric of science, rhetorical historiography, procedural rhetoric, and minority rhetorics.
History of Rhetoric (1 Section; 25 Students) – Focus on the history and development of rhetorical concepts from the ancient Greeks through the Enlightenment.
Modern Rhetorical Theory (2 Section; 50 Students) – Course focuses on the developments of rhetorical theory in the 20th century. Course emphasizes mutations in media and globality as preconditions for the flowering of rhetorical thought that mark our world.
Arizona State University (10 Sections; 6 Courses; 280 Students; 7 Online Sections)
American Literature From 1860 (1 Section; 24 Students) – In this born-digital approach to the literary survey, students learn the history of American literature since 1860 while exploring digital methods of textual analysis.
Frankenstein and His World (1 Section; 30 Students; Online Course) – In this course, students will read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in conversation with the texts that both influenced it and were influenced by the novel. Students also complete projects and papers on this cultural legacy.
Major American Novels (2 Section; 46 Students) – Course covering major works of the American novel. Additionally, students will complete assignments deploying thematic, stylometric, and mapping-based approaches to the study of literature in a project-oriented exploration American literary history.
H.P. Lovecraft: Style, Science, Myth (2 Section; 60 Students; Online Course) – In this course on the horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, students use digital humanities methods to complete projects dealing with Lovecraft’s unique style, interest in science, and contemporary mythology.
Introduction to Contemporary Fiction (3 Section; 90 Students; Online Course) – Course introduces students to the current state of American fiction by focusing on novels published by living authors within the last three years.
Popular Cultural Issues: Apocalypse Now? (1 Section; 30 Students; Online Course) – Course asks students to think critically about the continuing popularity of post-apocalyptic and end-of-the-world narratives in contemporary literature, film, and television.
Pennsylvania State University (16 Sections; 5 Courses; 644 Students)
Rhetoric & Composition (6 Sections; 144 Students) – This first-year composition option at Penn State introduces students to college writing, critical thinking, and basic rhetorical theory.
Effective Writing: Technical Writing (7 Sections; 168 Students) – Advanced composition class for students in science and engineering fields. Focus on document design, readability, and technologies of communication.
Effective Writing: Business Writing (2 Sections; 48 Students) – Advanced composition class for students in business fields. Focus on effective and ethical communication, document design, and branding.
Science Fiction (2 Sections; 200 Students) – Course focusing on the history of science fiction in the 20th and 21st centuries. This large lecture class, composed mostly of non-majors, highlights the ongoing relationships between science, literature, and imagined futures.
Introduction to Critical Reading (1 Section; 24 Students) – Introductory class focusing on research methods and critical approaches within the English major. Specifically, instruction focused on media theory and critical appraisal of cultural texts.
For National Organizations
Member-at-large, Executive Committee, The Society For Literature, Science, and the Arts, 2015-2017.
Program Committee Member, The Society For Literature, Science, and the Arts Conference, 2013.
For Texas A&M University
Digital Humanities Working Group Convener, 2015-Present.
Writing Committee Member, 2015-Present.
Rhetoric & Composition Search Committee Member, 2015.
First Year Review Committee Member, 2015.
For Arizona State University
IHC English Education Search Committee Member 2014 – Successful hire for tenure-track assistant professor in English Education.
Noösphere Reading Group Organizer, 2014 – Ongoing, informal reading group of SLS faculty reading works related to the topics of global consciousness and global awareness.
IHR Nexus Lab Advisory Group Member, Institute for Humanities Research, 2013-2015 – The Nexus Lab, resulting from the work of the DH Initiative at ASU, serves as a focal point and incubator for collaborative, digital research across the humanities at ASU.
IHR Nexus Lab Data Visualization Working Group Member, 2014-2015.
Digital Humanities Initiative Working Group Member, Institute for Humanities Research, 2013 – Created purpose document inaugurating an interdisciplinary research and pedagogy initiative for digital humanities.
Peer Promotion Committee Chair, Interdisciplinary Humanities and Communications, 2012 – Reviewed materials for colleagues seeking promotion.
Computer Programming – Thorough knowledge of multiple computer programming languages such as C, Java, Ruby, PERL, and LISP. Significant experience in building websites using advanced technologies such as PHP, MySQL, Ruby on Rails, and Apache.
The Modern Language Association
Rhetoric Society of America
The Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts
Available Upon Request
Other Places to Find Me Online
Fan Utopias and Self-Help Supermen
Published in Science Fiction Studies, 124 (November 2014)
Drawn from my current book, this article suggests that superman fiction, often dismissed as fascist and naive, had certain interesting political ramifications during the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Fan Utopias and Self-Help Supermen: Utopianism in WWII-era SF
Published in Science Fiction Studies, 124 (November 2014)
This article draws on research conducted for my current book project on transhumanism, and explores the relationship between fans and pro writers during the late 1930s and early 1940s. This period, which I call the “superman boom,” was a transitional one for both fandom and the culture of professional writers. As an autonomous fan culture began to articulate itself, John W. Campbell’s rise as the editor of Astounding also gave shape to the idea that SF could be taken seriously as an artform. This superman boom, an almost endless stream of stories and novels varying the themes of a genetically superior but persecuted elite taken from A.E. van Vogt’s hugely popular 1939 novel Slan, suggested a number of interesting political engagements, including early involvement by SF writers in Alfred Korzybski’s General Semantics program and the creation of a number of fan-organized Utopian communities. These movements, oddly, coincide with the dawn of World War II and borrow heavily from the fascist rhetoric of America’s enemies, culminating in fan Claude Degler labelling, in all seriousness, this period as the moment of “fanationalism.” Inevitably, the ethical tensions this association with Nazism provoked proved unsustainable, but the also point toward the potent moment of emergence for what we now recognize as SF fan culture.
Article in Progress
Article in Progress
Invoking Darkness: Skotison, Boundless Agency, and Inhuman Rhetoric
Target Journal: RSQ
This article argues that the turn to new materialism in rhetorical theory, specifically when inspired by object-oriented ontology, actually fills a need to address what this paper labels “boundless agencies”: ecosystems, climates, pandemics, economies, etc. Our object-centric language lacks rhetorical strategies for dealing with these new inhuman agencies and, as they come to dominant our cultural rhetoric, we lack persuasive strategies to address them. Instead of a model of object rhetoric focused on rhetorical carpentry (Brown and Rivers), a strategy that proposes the enlistment of simulating objects to understand the nonhuman, this article nominates Lanham’s concept of skotison—deliberately obfuscatory speech—as a key figure for rhetorically invoking these boundless agencies. Rhetorical invocation provides a strategy for thinking about the rhetoric of the inhuman, rather than the nonhuman, which is the more salient object for an extra-human rhetorical theory in our current age of horrors.
Review of Slime Dynamics
Published in Itineration
Mina Loy Online
Online edition of Mina Loy’s poetry and manifestoes formatted in HTML to be typographically correct, retaining the structural elements of Loy’s writing that is often not produced online.
Online at: http://oncomouse.github.io/loy
Mina Loy Online
This collection of Mina Loy’s poems and manifestoes documents the canon of futurist works identified by Janet Lyon as crucial to understanding Loy’s complicated relationship with avant-garde modernism. Additionally, Loy’s usage of typography contains clues to how to interpret the poems, but many of these innovative, concrete features are lost when the poems are translated online. This online edition rectifies this lack by using CSS 3, HTML 5, and advanced web fonts to format Loy’s poems in as close a format to their original publication as possible.
Edition currently includes:
- “Aphorisms on Futurism” (1914)
- “Feminist Manifesto” (1914)
- “Parturition” (1914)
- Songs to Joannes (1917)
Online at: http://oncomouse.github.io/loy
Proposal for Creating Free Online Peer-Reviewed Journals
In a discussion on Facebook recently, the lack of rhetoric and composition journals was highlighted as a serious professional problem.1 Our field has grown extensively in the last 20 years but the number of publishing venues has not similarly expanded to keep pace with the growing needs of scholars who have …
Easily Create Elegant Course Websites w/ YAML & Middleman
I love creating new classes. I love the process of mapping a course of knowledge, thinking about what texts will best guide students along a path toward a new understanding of the world. I love the process of creating assignments to help them test their new skills and create new knowledge …
There is a lot of talk of the weird in today’s humanities. From Karen Gregory’s Weird Solidarities to Graham Harman’s Weird Realism, we are going through a weird moment in humanities (we’re also going through a weird moment, if you catch my drift). Weird is, as you probably know, entering our …
Sex and the Singularity
Presentation at MLA15 in Vancouver on sexuality, the Vingean Singularity, and Her.
Sex and the Singularity: On The Reproduction of Software Objects
Presentation At: The Modern Languages Association Convention, Vancouver, BC, 2015
This paper considers the intersection of sexuality and Vernor Vinge’s theory of the Singularity, as articulated in Her. I argue that, while the film’s ending constitutes an “intelligence explosion” in Vinge’s vocabulary, the blank-screened sex scene between Theodore and Samantha is the film’s more interesting moment of unknowable being. In discussing this question of human-machine erotic interfaces, I turn to the history of research into artificial life and the almost singular obsession of the field with asexual reproduction. Because of early computing pioneer John Von Neumann’s influential work on self-replicating machines and cellular automata, software objects reproduce asexually within the Von Neumann computational architecture inside every digital device. Von Neumann’s research seems to prove that asexual software can simulate sexual beings, arguing “life is a process which can be abstracted away from any particular medium.” Even the recently developed technique of genetic computing, which uses Darwinian models of population fitness to solve complex problems, rely on asexual data simulating sexual reproduction. Based on this history, I conclude that the issue of desire amongst the machines is one of incompatible architectures. The central conceit of Her, however, is that the desire experienced by the male lead, a human, and the female lead, an agglomeration of software objects, is not simulation. I conclude, then, that the specific challenge to an erotics of data, especially given the film’s anti-representational tactics, is the question of an interface: a complex negotiation between unassimilable models of life itself that exist beyond a sexual singularity.
Approaching The Peripheral
Roundtable organized by Brian Croxall on the upcoming William Gibson novel, The Peripheral.
Approaching The Peripheral: First Responses to William Gibson’s New Novel
Presentation At: The Modern Languages Association Convention, Vancouver, BC, 2015
From the roundtable’s description: October 2014 will see the publication of The Peripheral, a novel by William Gibson. Turning his attention again to tomorrow, the author imagines the future of games, technology, and warfare and their effects on bodies, economies, and families. Scholars of contemporary literature present a range of approaches and share their early reactions, impressions, and suggestions for interpreting this new text.
Critical Informatics and the Digital Humanities
Panel I organized that addresses critical contributions digital humanities makes to the cultural understanding of informatics.
Critical Informatics and the Digital Humanities
Presentation At: The Modern Languages Association Convention, Austin, TX, 2016
This panel challenges the often dominant view that digital humanities requires or is focused on rational and realist critical methodologies inherited from computation or the sciences. Coming as a response to the so-called “death of Theory,” digital humanists often situate their work in terms more associated with a pre-hermeneutic scholarly approach: “I look at my data and see what’s there.” This panel challenges this realist bias and its association (as Adeline Koh suggests) with informatic methodologies that were invented for colonialist, capitalist, and anti-privacy purposes. At its core, this panel explores the idea that DH, in addition to reshaping humanities scholarship, is an important site for challenging dominant ideologies of data and the pervasive culture of computational rationality. Borrowing the term “critical informatics” from analysis of the work of information scientist Rob Kling, this panel documents emergent methods for DH that counter informatic realism.
Worlds Without Us
Eco-horror, modernity, VanderMeer
Worlds Without Us: The Horror of Indifference in The Southern Reach Trilogy
Presentation At: The Society For Literature, Science, and the Arts 2014 Conference, Houston, TX, 2015
In Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance, all 2014), the style and language of H.P. Lovecraft’s weird horror are updated for an age of ecological collapse and posthuman sensibilities. As Stephen Rust and Carter Soles argue in their introduction to a recent special issue of ISLE,”ecohorror”is a growing genre of cinema and literature in which ecological visions are used as fodder for horror narratives. VanderMeer’s trilogy—involving the attempts to scientifically and bureaucratically manage an alien-created, pristine natural environment on the coast of the Southern US—clearly engages these tropes but, I argue, toward different ends. Rust and Soles argue that ecohorror—defined more capaciously than the popular definition as “revenge of nature” narratives—uses horror to foreground ecological politics and sensibilities. However, I argue that VanderMeer is focusing not on a notion of nature but on the human itself as a vector for producing horror: his unsettling descriptions of a seemingly pure natural world evoke a clear sense of our post-natural realities. Rather than produce an ecological awareness, VanderMeer’s ecohorror produces an awareness of our own inability to produce an ecological vision in the Anthropocene. By creating an ecology that does not reference the human, and using this ecosystem as a vector for weird horror, VanderMeer’s trilogy captures an inhuman vision of the natural, non-human world as, to use Eugene Thacker’s term for the truly horrifying, a “world-without-us.”
Read about my use of podcasting in the humanities classroom ...
I have been recently using podcasting in online classes at ASU for some of my English literature and digital humanities classes. This technology facilitates an engaged discussion forum within the context of an asynchronous classroom format.
You can view an archive of one of my recent class’s podcasts by clicking here.
Some resources I've used in past courses.
Classroom Resources Gallery
- Technical Communications Syllabus (PDF)
Class for a recent technical communications course to be taught at Penn State. This class continues the work that can be seen in the web class linked on the web gallery . The class stresses the role that form and content both play in the process of communication. Moreover, assignments that include the use of Powerpoint and in-depth exploration of design features in MS Word, reveal to students the fact that both form and content have specific rhetorical tropes and figures that they must master to become successful technical communicators.
- Business Communications Syllabus (PDF)
This syllabus is for a proposed business communications class. It is designed to get students thinking about the relationship between written communication, online media, and identity. Students will face a number of multimodal assignments, including a semester-long assignment in which they engage in hands-on exploration of various social media technologies as a means of exploring the ways in which media help shape our rhetorical possibilities.
- ENGL 202C Spring 2009 Homepage
A class website for a section of ENGL 202C (technical writing) taught at Penn State in Spring 2009. This particular class was part of a pilot project that explored the use of blogs in the composition classroom. Students were asked to blog three times a week and submit their assignments on their personal blogs.
- English Composition Wiki Homepage
As an instructor in the first year composition program in Penn State's English Department , I was able to take part in a pilot program exploring the use of wikis in the freshman composition program. In the early days of such technology's adoption online, we were able to experiment with the affordances of the technology and the possibilities that exist for creating a community of writers in first year writing classrooms.
- Technical Communications Design Slides (PPT)
This is a set of slides designed to teach basic design principles to non-designers. I find, in teaching business and technical communications, that students often need to understand the rhetorical principles of form as much as they need to understand the rhetorical principles of the words they write. These slides are intended to begin a semester-long conversation about design and form.
- Business Communication Presentation Style Slides (Google Docs)
These slides, created in Google Documents are intended to teach students about the various possibilities for conveying meaning through Powerpoint. The goal of these slides is to show students how to create effective slide presentations using both principles of form and content.
About This Site
Software used in development.
About This Site
The site was designed and coded by Andrew Pilsch.