I structure my courses around two core principles: developing critical thought and maintaining transparency. My role as a teacher is to guide students through their exploration of topics and skills, supporting them in their intellectual endeavors without imposing my own beliefs or habits on them. Consequently, my courses are usually structured around a series of core themes, which serve as starting points for exploration and debate. Further, I have found that the most productive courses are those that give students great leeway to experiment intellectually with various methods, ideas, and texts. For instance, my “Glam” course (which I have taught at Davidson College and at the University of Chicago) begins with a nucleus of performance theory and applies the theory to David Bowie; but the course rapidly expands beyond these narrow bounds, encompassing such diverse topics as folk music, minstrelsy, and heavy metal; and ultimately culminates in students applying some of our theoretical ideas to a topic of their choosing.
Beyond the theoretical and textual content of my courses, I work to establish relationships of trust with my students, and this can only happen in an environment where transparency is paramount. In order to benefit from my courses, students need to believe that my criticism is constructive and that my requirements are considered (rather than arbitrary). I thus try to explain as much of my own process as possible: why I have chosen particular reading assignments, the benefits I anticipate for writing projects or exams. Further, I invite constructive criticism from my students so that my courses can better develop their intellectual skills.
In this section of my website, I offer syllabi from courses I have recently taught and the course blogs in my most recent courses. They represent something of my philosophy and methods as a teacher, and they might also serve as a model for others who are interested in working with students on these topics.