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Graduate     Students

Office Hours: Spring 2024:

Week 1 to Week 10: Mondays in my office, 205 PLC, from 9-12;  Tuesdays 3-5 on Zoom (email for appointment and zoom link). You can stop by in-person office hours or email to reserve a half hour meeting.  If you are sick, please do not come to office hours in person; email me and we can zoom. Note: Some office hours may be cancelled due to graduate exams and meetings. Just email to check.

Prospective Graduate Students Interested in Working with Me:  

I am always interested in working with graduate students in my areas of expertise.

  1. Please note, however, that I cannot agree to direct your English doctoral work, in advance, over email, before you are admitted to the program and before I have worked with you in classes and on exams. There is no need to email me or meet with me in advance; my work is widely available. (I do recommend that as part of researching graduate programs you read some of the scholarship of the faculty who are experts in the fields you are interested in.) Also, the graduate admissions committee in English does not ask for input from faculty; I am not involved in the admissions process. I cannot help you with your admissions materials because that would not be fair to other applicants. 

  2. For ENVS MA and ESSP PhD students at U of O it is beneficial to contact the faculty you intend to work with, in the fall, because the admissions process for this transdisciplinary degree works quite differently.

  3. For both programs, please note that I do not personally decide on grad admissions and I do not have my own funding to support graduate students or postdocs. Generally in the U.S., in the humanities,  admissions and funding are through programs and centers, not individual faculty. There is no need to meet with me or directly send me your information. I am sorry that I cannot answer all the email I receive from prospective graduate students and I can't set up individual meetings with everyone. 



Current Graduate Seminars:

Fall 2024: English 690: Introduction to Graduate Studies.


Spring 2024:  ENG 615: Multispecies Anthropocene 

Mondays: 2:00-4:50

Although the term “Anthropocene” has been critiqued and recast, the central problematic of how to conceive of the scale of impact that (Western/colonial/capitalist) Humans have had on the planet remains an environmental, ethical, and political question. While “the anthropocene” is often depicted both visually and theoretically in colossal and abstract modes, this seminar veers toward more immediate and tangible problematics that arise when considering the Anthropocene from the framework of multispecies relations as well as the perspectives, struggles, agencies, and life worlds of particular species. How do particular animals, species, taxa and ecosystems navigate and respond to this profoundly altered planet? It will also explore how racial and colonial structures as well as queer/trans subject positions affect the constitution of species in the Anthropocene, and introduce Indigenous theories of multispecies relations. Topics will include extinction, rewilding, biopolitics, race, Indigeneity, queer and trans animalities, science and technology studies, epistemologies of species perspectives and cross-species speculations. Much of the reading will be in the form of theoretical/cultural studies articles and chapters, but the course will also include science, art, activist web sites, digital media (What is Missing? + Feral Atlas), popular science writing (Eager Beaver), an experimental cross over text (Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals), and an Indigenous experimental novel that we will read as theory (Noompiming: The Cure for White Ladies).  Seminar time will primarily consist of discussion, but may also include impromptu lectures by the professor, and presentations by former U of Oregon graduate students.  Assignments: 1) Short weekly response papers;  2) seminar paper or digital/public/creative project, and a presentation of that paper or project; 3) informed, active participation.

FOR CURRENT GRADUATE STUDENTS: Basic Procedures, Recommendation Letters, etc.  (If I am directing your PhD or serving on your committee, please read all the information included here.)


Efficient, Clear, Email Communication:

Current students: check your UO email for information. Please use my official UO email address for all inquiries regarding current courses or letters of recommendation: do not use Facebook for anything professional, especially not requests for recommendation letters, etc. Please avoid multiple strings of emails: put everything you can in one clear email (e.g., the zoom link and the attachments and any other information) and use the subject line for topic, date, and time. Please avoid creating unnecessary work, confusion, and unnecessary emails.

Winter "Break"/Spring "Break"

Please note that I cannot meet, read materials, or submit reference letters during our short and busy winter and spring "breaks." Please plan ahead so deadlines do not correspond with "breaks."  My schedule varies during summer break, which is roughly between mid June and mid September. 


Letters of recommendation:

  1. Dossier Service:  For the academic job market, plan to use Interfolio or a similar dossier service--faculty cannot write and send multiple letters. Ideally, you will be applying for 20-50 positions, since the job market is partly a numbers game. A service such as Interfolio not only makes it manageable for faculty, but it gives control to job seekers, enabling them to choose when and where the dossier should be sent, cutting down on emails, uncertainty, and stress.  Some positions make it difficult or impossible to use a dossier service, but please take advantage of the service whenever possible. If there are positions that require faculty to separately submit letters via a portal activated by an email, please let us know when this will be happening so that the request doesn't languish in our junk file! There are ways to use Interfolio for portal systems, however; do get advice from a grad student who has been on the market recently. (See the Timeline for the Academic Job Market on my website.)

  2. Timing: Please allow at least three weeks for someone to write you a letter of recommendation. I cannot write letters on short notice! Please note that the only time I can write letters of recommendation for graduate programs, law school, fellowships, etc. is from September through November 20th (not over Thanksgiving, the holidays, and Winter break.) So plan ahead and be organized. Doctoral students going on the national job market must submit their requests for letters before August 1st of that year (see timeline on this website).  Please note: I CANNOT fulfill last-minute requests for letters and I will not write letters during the holidays or over winter or spring break. Please be organized, plan ahead, and do not make unreasonable requests of any of your recommenders.

  3. Materials: Be sure to provide your letter writers with relevant examples of your work such as articles and dissertation chapters, along with your job letter, cv, and dissertation abstract, as well as important deadlines--organized in a clear, logical way, in ONE email. Also include your defense date, a timeline for finishing the dissertation, and a description of the sorts of positions you are searching for.  I cannot fulfill requests that are scattered across multiple emails. It is in your best interest to help faculty write the best possible letters for you, by providing us with the information we need.  [For letters of recommendation or reference calls pertaining to other sorts of applications (not the academic job market) please send all relevant and helpful information, along with copies of your work that I have commented upon, in *one* email, with the deadline and procedures clearly explained.]

Basic procedures for MA thesis and dissertation writers:

  • Name your files with your LAST NAME first, concluding with a number indicating the revision or version. On the first page include "submitted [date]" or "revised [date]." (In other words, please keep things clear and organized for your readers. It is confusing if we have 13 files on our desktop all named "Thesis" or "chapter 3".)

  • Always include page numbers and a bibliography with everything you hand in. Please include a table of contents of the entire dissertation along with every chapter you submit. Electronic copies are preferable, since they save paper. 

  • If I am directing your work, I need to approve drafts before they are sent to the rest of the committee. If I am not directing your work, please do not send me drafts until your director has approved them.

  • Revisions: If you are handing in revised versions of a thesis or dissertation chapter, be sure to include a summary of the comments you received from all your committee members as well as a detailed summary of the revisions that you made, noting page numbers where the revisions occur.

  • Time. Be sure to allow at least two weeks for your committee to read a dissertation chapter, three weeks for an MA thesis, and a month for an entire dissertation. When planning your defense remember that you will need time to make required revisions before you defend--do not schedule things too tightly or the defense may not go well. If you provide the dissertation to the committee too late, the defense may not proceed.

  • Check: official Graduate Division and departmental deadlines!  These are important!

  • Dissertation prospectus: Your dissertation prospectus should include most of the following categories: title of thesis/project; a list of 3-7 keywords;  an introduction to the topic; a statement of the problem and its significance;  description of the project; the working questions and/or hypothesis; a brief literature review (discussion of previous scholarship you will build on);  description of theory and/or methodology;  feasibility statement; chapter outlines;  timeline; initial bibliography; and any appendices, graphs, illustrations, etc.  In the timeline, be sure to include: chapter completion dates, time for revision, research trips, deadlines for grant proposals, IRB deadlines when necessary, conference dates, submission of publications (one from the dissertation + others), other professional training and credentials, digital or public humanities projects, etc. 

  • Regardless of other requirements, it is best to hold a 1 hour dissertation prospectus defense, and then later,  a meeting with your entire committee to discuss your first chapter. Both of these meetings will help  you get off on a good start and ensure that all committee members are on the same page.

  • Scheduling defense: Once you have a defense date determined, please send a microsoft outlook email calendar invitation to everyone on the committee so that we all have the same date and time on our calendars. Be sure to schedule everything well in advance, and avoid scheduling summer defenses, or having faculty sign forms in the summer, when faculty may be out of town. Send everyone the final, defense draft of the dissertation, three weeks ahead, as one document with continuous pagination, page numbers, notes, and the bibliography.​ Do not revise the dissertation after you have sent this defense-ready, final version!

  • Prepare a short 15 minute presentation of your dissertation for the defense, explaining the origin of the project, what you accomplished, and what additional questions have emerged. This could involve a Power Point. While the defense will most likely be in person, you may choose to enable people to attend on Zoom, as well. If you do, please try out the technology in the room before the defense begins.

Past Graduate Seminars and Courses:

Fall 2022 + 2023: English 690: Introduction to Graduate Studies (16235)

Spring 2022: ENG 607 (33666) Graduate Seminar:

Posthumanism, Race, and Indigenous Thought. 

This seminar delves into the intersections, tensions, and alliances between environmentally oriented posthumanisms, recent race theory, and indigenous thought.  What are the convergences and frictions between the “nonhuman turn” and theoretical work in indigenous studies and black studies? How is the (white, Western, settler colonialist) “Human” transfigured by these fields? What are the consequences of this thinking for environmentalism, animals, and plants as well as for social justice and indigenous sovereignty?  How are these scholarly areas being configured and why do their parameters and their relations matter? How can each of us, from our own subject positions and disciplinary areas, respectfully and ethically navigate these volatile terrains? Readings will include Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass; Rosi Braidotti, Posthuman Knowledge; Cary Wolfe, Before the Law: Humans and Animals in a Biopolitical Frame; Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies; Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World; along with other essays and experimental writing.  Requirements: active participation, one short paper and presentation, one medium-length seminar paper and presentation. Please be prepared to discuss Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, U of O’s Common Reading, for the first class. 


Spring 2022: 

ENVS 510 (30947): Ocean Conservation

Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:00-11:50, COL 142
Many threats to ocean ecologies and marine life are distant, complex, and difficult to imagine. So how can literature, visual art, and other media portray the threats to ocean ecologies and possible solutions in accurate and compelling ways? What is the relation between science and the arts in ocean conservation movements? This class will begin with an introduction to marine biology, then outline some of the key threats to ocean ecologies, along with frameworks for ocean conservation, including those of indigenous marine conservation or (TEK). The second half of the class will focus on ocean conservation in literature, art, film and visual media, analyzing representations of the science, ecological visions, ethical and political implications, and the ability of literature and visual arts to capture, portray, convince, and inspire. Readings include two books, Philip V. Mladenov, Marine Biology: A Very Short Introduction, Nancy Lord’s short novel, ph; and a selection of articles, essays, poems, theory, and science writing, along with art, video, and film.

Winter 2022: ENG 419/519: Contemporary Literary Theory:  Animal Studies/Plant Studies

Beginning with and featuring the U of O Common Reading, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer and concluding with Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ experimental work Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals, this class will ask what it means to write about plants and animals, to embark on speculative forays about their perspectives, to place other species at the center of our stories, to learn from them, to creatively engage with scientific knowledge about them, and to expand the human scope of ethical consideration to include them. We will read and discuss literary criticism and theory in animal and plant studies, such as that by Jakob Johann von Uexküll, Michael Marder, and Donna J. Haraway, along with some poetry and short stories. The final project will bring the theoretical perspectives to one specific plant or animal of the student’s choice, will include a creative option.

Spring 2021 Graduate Course: 

ENVS 633: Environmental Studies Thesis Development. Mondays 2:15-3:45 

"Interdisciplinary readings in environmental studies focused on topics chosen by each student in consultation with instructor. Preparation for presentations at the Joint Campus Conference."

Fall 2020: Graduate/Undergraduate Course: 

ENG 469/569:    Literature and the Environment: Ocean Life in Literature and Film

Although environmental studies has focused on terrestrial environments, the concern for ocean ecologies and the interest in ocean life—from jellyfish to octopus to whales—is rapidly expanding, in the burgeoning field of the blue humanities. This class will explore ocean life in literature, film, and theory, from monstrous figures in classical mythology, through Jules Verne’s 19th century novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to the  surrealist short films of Jean Painlevé, to Nnedi Okorofor’s Afrofuturist SF novel Lagoon, to contemporary poetry, film, and popular science.   We will discuss the environmental implications of how marine species are depicted—for example, as monstrous, alien, aesthetically breathtaking, or extraordinarily intelligent—as we attempt to imagine and think with some of the most captivating creatures from the sea.   Graduate students will have additional theoretical and other scholarly readings and write a final paper. 


Spring 2020

Graduate Seminar: ENG 615: Advanced Study in Lit Theory: Environmental Theories 

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