Courses that teach poetry, fiction, and drama writing can offer students valuable insights and experience on today’s college campuses, but only if creative writing classes are brought into deeper and wider relation with courses in the curriculum; only if such programs maintain a pedagogy not geared toward packaging for the marketplace but instead emphasizing reading skills, critical thinking, language awareness, and historical consciousness, qualities and abilities that will prove useful in many walks of life; and only if such programs can be made to foster more understanding of public concerns and social responsibility.

—, David Radavich. “Creative Writing in the Academy.” Profession, 1999, 112.

Interdisciplinary Innovations in Instruction: Using Creative Writing, Composition, and Literature-Based Pedagogies in the Classroom

Over the course of my graduate education, I have taught Introductory Creative Writing classes, poetry workshops, first-year composition courses, writing center pedagogy seminars, and surveys of canonical works under what was once called “Western Humanities.” No matter the subject or concentration, as an instructor, I adopt the same ethos as a leader who is intelligent and friendly, experienced and always learning. My expectations are malleable, adapting to increasingly diverse makeup of college campuses. As individuals with differing personalities, cultural histories and writing abilities, the last thing I want to do as an instructor is stifle their writing through monolinguistic or prescriptive approaches.  I stress that the literary canon is meant to be interrogated within the historical contexts of its publication and the current era. I remind my students that Standard Academic English is a dialect; like Bruce Horner, Paul Kei Matsuda and Mina Shaughnessy, I stress the social importance of literacy by recognizing and refining the linguistic and cultural experiences that students bring with them into the classroom.

In first-year composition courses, I pinpoint the intersections between rhetorical, creative, and literary fields.  While adhering to course outcomes that focus on analysis, research, argument, and clarity, I simultaneously implement poetry readings and workshop exercises to spark invention and personal ownership. Using digital tools like canvas and Tumblr, I encourage my students to express their arguments and positions through multimodal forms: videos, art collages, image narratives, and photography spreads. The readings for these courses change on a semester basis, and have touched on authors as wide-ranging as Frederick Douglass, Donna Haraway, Chris Gethard, and Ursula Leguin. Using these authors as discussion and analysis material, my classes delve into themes of Urban Planning, Racial Divides in America, Sustainability and the Environment, and Utopias/Dystopias.

As an instructor with a deep-seated commitment to preserving and respecting local ecologies, I ultimately want to instill a place-based mindfulness in my students.  Through ethno-botanical reflection and analysis, my goal is to enable my students to draw connections between socio-political borders and ecocritical concerns. I believe in the efficacy of active citizenship, non-classroom-based classes, and immersive learning.