Student-centered learning is at the heart of all of my teaching, although I prefer to think of it as community-centered learning. Learning is not best pursued as a solitary project. We learn better when we encounter collaborative problem-solving, and levels of innovation and motivation increase with a socially oriented, interactive classroom. As educators, we sometimes unintentionally stifle the potential of the classroom on the very first day when we overload students with information: syllabi, instructions, and imposed rules and regulations. But this is when we could start building structures for community, connectedness, and respect—building blocks not only for a classroom but for an equal and more just society. Continue reading my teaching statement...
Dramatic Vision and Form
This course is part of the core curriculum of Villanova University’s M.A. program in Theatre, covering the second half of dramatic literature as well as the effect of theory and form on the vision of playwrights and performance artists. The course is a historical overview of theory, closely tied to artistic practice by some central theatre practitioners in the 20th and 21st centuries. Primarily, we cover modernism and continue up until contemporary theory and practice. The students are encouraged to search for their epistemologies and methodologies that can help both their research and practice. The students’ final project entails some academic research, critical analysis, and writing, as well as an optional development of this research into a practical component.
The students in the class are part of Villanova University’s multidisciplinary M.A. program, primarily catering to students who are interested in a multidisciplinary education, focusing on acting, directing, dramaturgy, literary managers, designers, and nonprofit managers. They are not primarily interested in pursuing a Ph.D.
I taught this course in Spring 2017.
The History of American Burlesque
New York University
This course covers some of the major historical shifts in American burlesque traditions including Thompsonian burlesque (and those that followed), female minstrel shows, hootchy cootchie dance, burlesque wheels, the emergence of striptease, queens of burlesque, exotic dancing, and the neo-burlesque movement. Rather than codify the defining characteristics and time periods of these historical moments, we seek to understand and trace how the definitions, conceptual preoccupations, and performance techniques of burlesque have adapted and changed over time. Special consideration will be given to understanding burlesque in relationship to other entertainment genres such as vaudeville, minstrelsy, early film, melodrama, musical theatre, world’s fairs, and to the larger social, cultural, and historical contexts in which burlesque has taken place. We watch films that document burlesque; read biographies of major figures and scholarly works about burlesque, theatre, and popular culture; attend neo-burlesque performances, and discuss the neo-burlesque and performance art movements with guest artists.
In Summer 2016, I co-taught the class with Dr. Lynn Sally, who had previously been teaching the class alone for many years. My syllabus and this course is indebted to her.
Baruch University, CUNY
This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of basic communication skills. Students learn and practice the preparation and delivery of original extemporaneous speeches. The course places a strong emphasis on the process of developing communication skills and the ability to convey concepts clearly. Critical thinking skills and research is also be emphasized. In so doing, students practice the skills of speaking that are crucial to communication, education, persuasion, and daily life.
I taught this class during the entire academic year of 2015-16, and made it a fully collaborative course with many elements involving student-centered pedagogy, crowdsourced documents, collaborative note-taking, blogging, etc.