I am an assistant professor of English at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, where I teach undergraduate courses in composition and creative writing, and gradates courses in digital literacy, the teaching of writing, literacy studies, genre studies, and qualitative methods for writing research. I also team with other writing faculty to develop basic writing curriculum in an accelerated learning program (ALP) configuration, and to create placements to identify the students who would benefit most from writing support.
In 2015, I earned my Ph.D in Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Under the direction of Charles Bazerman, I extended theoretical frames in transnational literacy studies to account for the unusual transnational properties of my research site, the American University in Cairo (AUC), and the ways in which my research participants, Egyptian undergraduate writers from a range of socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, flowed into the university and interacted with the expectations for writing and literacy at AUC. For Egyptians who enter transnational AUC, their movement took on the property of intranationality, as they moved from various positions within their own country into a space with U.S.-based expectations for writing and literacy. I am interested in the ways in which AUC students who develop ideologies for literacy associated with the United States might ultimately deploy these literacies once they graduate from AUC and begin professional, scholarly and/or artistic careers in Egypt.
This research is informed by my own experiences as a writing teacher while living in Cairo, Egypt. As I taught a U.S.-based curriculum of critical thinking, argumentation, research writing and creative nonfiction at the American University in Cairo, I became interested in students’ agendas for this “American” education. What special significance accompanied a domestic degree modeled after U.S.-based approaches? As I observed a range of social, cultural and educational backgrounds in my students, I grew curious about the manifold challenges experienced by students, especially those from the Egyptian public school system, in a country with challenges of its own. This curiosity brought me back to the United States, to my doctoral program at UCSB and to Dr. Bazerman, himself an international writing researcher. I have also worked closely with the other members of my doctoral committee: writing studies scholar Karen Lunsford, educational anthropologist Jason Duque, and Middle East & Religious Studies scholar Dwight Reynolds.
Before moving to Egypt, I earned an MFA in fiction from the highly-regarded MFA Programs in Writing at the University of California, Irvine, where I worked closely with Geoffrey Wolff, Michelle Latiolais and Mark Richard. My short stories have appeared in literary journals such as Mid-American Review. My fiction is often set in the American Midwest, where I was born and raised. It is domestic: there are families, homes, small towns and rural expanses. It is gothic: these familiar sites of family and home, of settings many readers would consider the benign features of a cross-country drive, are sites of intense struggle and identity formation for my characters as they learn how to be a son or daughter, a father or mother.
My interest in fiction stems from a crucial mentoring relationship with Kent Dixon at Wittenberg University, my undergraduate institution, and from a lifetime of writing and reading. As a boy, I often would sacrifice my tenuous standing in school to read novels or write stories of my own with friends. Back then, I would tell family that I planned to become a freelance writer when I grew up. This image of myself and a life with writing has endured to this day.
Writing and literacy--mine, those of others, their role in many societies over time--are deeply meaningful to me. My interests in writing and reading were encouraged by my parents and informed many of my boyhood activities. They shaped my adult priorities, the trajectory of my life. Today, I try to make visible the ways in which writing and reading, literacy and communication, give shape to lives in a world where these abilities, in their diverse manifestations, have become crucial avenues for education, expression and mobility.