STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY (2012- )
WRT 380: Advanced Writing Research: Theory, Methods, Practices: This course is designed to teach upper-division (mostly Writing Minor) students the fundamentals of academic research and apply that learning to practice/ develop skills through research and writing assignments. Academic research skills form a key foundation for success in college and the workplace; this course helps students do that by learning how to review current knowledge on specific topics, use academic databases, analyze and assess sources, substantively engage with other scholars’ ideas, and present their arguments with appropriate evidence. Building on substantial readings on “writing in the disciplines,” they also learn to reflect on their own experience and growth as writers in their respective disciplines/majors, while exchanging support as peer reviewers. As part of the discipline of Writing Studies, the course foregrounds writing process, genre and audience awareness, and issues of language and written communication. Students write about topics of their other disciplinary interests as they engage in tasks like library and internet search, annotated bibliography, literature review, research proposal, planning and development of a research paper, and presentation of findings.
WRT 614: World Rhetorics—This seminar focuses on the “global turn” in he study of rhetoric in particular and in the humanities in general. Students will start by surveying a number of rhetorical traditions from around the world, exploring some of the works they survey along three axes: historical, geopolitical, and issue-based. Students study how rhetorical practices in different parts of the world, focusing on how the issues of their interest have changed over time. As they gradually identify issues that interest them, students develop two consecutive but overlapping projects, the first to explore a particular tradition or set of traditions (or phenomena) and the second to develop a theoretical framework geared toward informing pedagogical practices, formulating research method or questions, or some other academic or professional implementation of their particular theoretical explorations. Toward the end of the semester, in light of the fact that rhetorical practices in and out of school are evolving at a rapid pace, the class will together explore how new media and modes of communication are affecting rhetorical practices in and across contexts, examining how the foundational forces of the major rhetorical traditions are shaping contemporary rhetorical practices. The course features a number of guest speakers who are specialists in different rhetorical traditions; it will provides students the option to participate in a side conversation online with students and scholars of rhetoric from different countries and cultures around the world.
WRT 621: Graduate Level Writing Course—This graduate-level writing in the disciplines (WID) course is designed to serve as a “remedial” means for helping students respond to the demands of advanced academic writing in their respective disciplines. Drawing on the latest developments in WID studies and ongoing conversations with WID scholars (as part of my book project), the course not only helps students learn lower-order writing skills but also understand the broader context of writing in their disciplines and anticipated careers. The course engages students in vigorous intellectual discussions (prompted by some challenging readings) about writing in the academic disciplines, as well as involving students in practical exercises at various stages of the writing processes. Students research, write, and conduct rigorous peer review, while working on their current writing projects in their departments. (Taught: Spring 2014).
WRT 304: Writing For Your Professions—In this upper division undergraduate elective, students prepare to enter the workforce. They start by reading about writing and communicating effectively in different academic disciplines and professions. They also create a template for a “blogfolio” or a site where they showcase their academic achievements and professional skills in static web pages and share and discuss their ideas in a blog integrated to the site. The first set of assignments focus on a few essential genres of writing in business and industry; the second assignment is an extended reflection on students’ past academic/professional achievements, present interests/investments, and future aspirations; the third set consists of a job search portfolio including an updated/effective resume, analysis of a sample job, followed by a cover letter and a follow up letter. In the professional blogfolio, students showcase appropriate types of assignments/activities from above. Many students start building or growing their professional networks during the semester, some students apply and secure jobs or internships, and a few decide to do simply practice the skills for future use.
WRT 302: Writing Across Cultures and Contexts—Fall 2016. This upper-division undergraduate course is designed to help students explore issues about writing/communication across cultures. Using the concept of “community as curriculum” (Cormier) and “reflective encounters” (Mao), students research and write about issues including greeting & socialization, conflict & negotiation, education & teaching/learning, privacy & sharing, media & mediation. Besides conducting extensive library research for writing a traditional research paper, students also interview fellow students and their professors (and often people beyond academe) in a few countries each—via email, Skype, etc. After having their research and data analysis reviewed by their informants abroad, students further add a reflection section to their project and present their major experiences/learning at the end of the semester.
WRT 102: Intermediate Writing Workshop—Required for all undergraduate students, this course helps you to improve college level writing skills. It involves extensive readings, short writing exercises, and longer assignments (such as reviewing scholarly texts, writing a researched argument, analyzing texts). Students write about broader issues such as the American dream, higher education, popular culture, and globalization. Using a class wiki, they also provide feedback to one another by following a set timeline and using rubrics that I provide. They finally submit portfolio from this course for evaluation by external readers in the program.
GLS 102: Perspectives for Global Citizenship—This course is designed to help students examine how ideas are shaped and conveyed in different contexts and cultures around the world, especially examining how “argumentation” (and even logic) is understood and approached differently in the process of communication—both written and oral. It helps them enhance them ability to understand, discuss, and write about complex and globally significant issues by considering different perspectives and understanding how contexts and cultures shape rhetoric, writing, and communication as a means of enhancing your sense of “global citizenship,” while also learning about this concept.
JRN 502: Communicating Science to the Public—Jointly administered by the departments of Writing and Journalism, this course is designed to teach graduate students of engineering, medicine, and natural sciences rhetorical and writing skills needed for communicating their research/scholarship to the public. Conducted in five weeks, it focuses on five key elements of writing: audience, genre, process, style, and voice. Working in a computer lab, students first “translate” their scientific/academic writing into a letter to the community, describing and establishing the significance of their research project; then they choose a third genre (of their choice) that can potentially allow them to reach a broader audience.
JRN 506: Communicating Science to the Public—Building on the foundation of JRN 502, this course is focuses on teaching more advanced rhetorical skills for using new media. Students start by reading about the challenges and prospects of scientists taking the challenge of communicating their knowledge to the public; then they write a set of assignments including a letter to the editor of a chosen media outlet, asking the latter to cover their project or the issue of their specialty as one of public interest; finally, they choose a social media platform that fits their interest and need in order to start moving “from lurking to leading” as a writer with a voice within the social dimension of their profession.
WRT 301: Honors Business Thesis—Designed for upper division honors students, this course serves the dual purpose of helping students write their honors business thesis as well as learn a range of academic research skills toward earning their honors status. Students start by creating a project schedule for the process of their research, writing, revision, and submission of the thesis. The process of research and writing also involves practicing and writing the thesis statement and outline, annotated bibliography and research proposal, and rigorous peer review and collaboration in and outside class.
WRT 101: Introductory College Writing—Designed to teach basic writing skills to nonnative English speaking students and other less proficient writers, this course focused on critical reading, analyzing academic texts, and practicing the writing process. Students also conduct basic research on the web and using the library in order to acquire foundational skills for more advanced academic writing in college.
UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE
Business Writing (Engl 306), Summer 2008, Summer 2009-II & III, Spring 2011. Designed for upper division undergraduate students, this course covered principles and practices of business writing. In a computer-assisted instruction classroom, students learned a range of business communication skills, with attention to the kinds of information technologies that are used in the workplace. Drawing on the concepts of “team writing” (Wolfe, 2009), use of wiki groups, and relevant concepts from the Paul and Elder model of Critical Thinking, students collaboratively developed and presented business proposals, marketing pitches, and other genres of business communication.
Advanced Composition (Engl 105), Fall 2010. This course was designed to allow honors students to read, discuss, research, and respond to issues of globalization, applying critical thinking and academic writing skills with a particular focus on exploring multiple perspectives on the issues at hand. Students started by responding to readings using multiple perspectives, then went to analyzed multimodal texts, and finally worked collaboratively to develop and present multimedia projects that demonstrated different perspectives on topics that they chose related to readings and discussions in class.
Introduction to College Composition (Engl 101), Fall 2007. This course focused on the metaphor of “joining the conversation” in academic writing. Students learned strategies, terms and concepts of composition based on the idea of “conscious writing,” trying to understand explicit and implicit conventions of writing in any genre, context or discipline.
British Literature II (ENGL 302), Summer 2010. This undergraduate survey of British literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was designed to help students learn to critically read and appreciate literary works with an understanding of the material, social, and cultural conditions of the times when the works were produced. The course included poetry and prose from the British Romantic, Victorian, and Modern periods. I focused on intensive reading of relatively shorter texts, based on which students shared ideas by posting daily blog entries and comments as well as in classroom discussions. To supplement the course with literary criticism and theory, I included essays and articles on Formalist (including New Critical), Feminist, New Historicist, Reader Response, and other theories.
Intermediate College Composition (ENGL 102), Spring 2008. This course was designed to help students learn, with close attention and step by step, the fundamentals of research-based academic papers. Using Brenda Spatt’s textbook, Writing from Sources, I let students read critically, annotate texts, find ways to respond to readings while representing the authors’ arguments in their full and logical contexts, and gradually learn to draw on and synthesize multiple sources into the students’ own framework of ideas.
Introduction to College Composition (Engl 101), Fall 2007. This course was designed with the basic idea of academic writing as first of all “joining the conversation.” Class discussions frequently focused on strategies, terms and concepts of composition; I used the tagline of “conscious writer” in order to emphasize the need to understand that there are explicit and implicit conventions of writing and other academic work in any discipline. Students practiced careful reading and listening, critical thinking and analysis, and careful acknowledgement of other people’s ideas when borrowing and using them.
TRIBHUVAN UNIVERSITY, NEPAL (2001-2006)
CENTRAL DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH, KATHMANDU
Survey of British and American Poetry (graduate course). This survey of mainly British and some American poetry covered a broad range of poetry, from Beowulf to Cynthia Zarin’s “Song” (1993). I taught different periods over the course of five years, teaching some periods multiple times and repeating some (like British Romantic poetry) several times. Poetry can be exceptionally difficult for English as a foreign language students, and part of being an effective teacher involves infusing the confidence in students to read and analyze poetic texts whose social and cultural contexts they know little about.
Linguistics and Stylistics (graduate course). This course consisted of fundamentals of linguistics—phonetics and phonology, morphology and lexicon, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics—which were the first half of each section, the second of which were applications of those linguistics concepts to literary analysis. A range of additional readings on the history, theories, and debates in linguistics also supplemented students’ understanding of complex linguistic issues that could influence stylistic applications.
Literary Criticism and Theory (graduate course). This course, also called “Foundations of Literary Criticism and Theory,” consisted mainly of readings from Hazard Adam’s comprehensive collection Critical Theory Since Plato. The course, as designed by the university, was highly challenging to students due to the sheer amount and complexity of content. I helped students tackle that challenge by not just teaching the content but also skills for reading, analyzing and writing about the texts.
Intellectual History (graduate course). Intellectual History, or more precisely the intellectual history of the Western world, was a course that included readings on the development of the most influential philosophies, scientific advancements, and political thoughts in the West. I covered modern and postmodern periods.
CAMPION, KATHMANDU MODEL, & RR COLLEGES (2001-06)
Foundation of English Studies (lower division course). The foundation of English Studies, also called Introduction to English literature, was a unique course that consisted of three types of readings: a collection of critical, literary, philosophical, and scientific essays that gave students the sense that English studies was no longer limited to “literature”; a collection of ancient myths that are commonly used as allusions in Western literature; and a manual for critical analysis of literary texts. Teaching this course to freshmen in a private college with students largely from affluent families of the capital city was challenging; but I took the challenge as an opportunity and developed ways to make learning foreign literature and intellectual concepts relevant and interesting.
Survey of Poetry (upper division course). This was a survey of British and American poetry, following elements of poetry: modes of poetic expression, rhetorical figures, and figures of sound. This was a course in the third year, so students were much more focused and motivated because by this time most of them looked forward to the professional world or further studies, often abroad. And yet, students were afraid of poetry, and that too from distant times and places. I happened to be someone who enjoyed English poetry since my days in a “mission school” in India, so my challenge was to carefully translate my own enjoyment of English poetry, both demonstrating and convincing students that they too can understand and enjoy it. One of the teaching strategies that I adopted in courses like this is to start simple. For example, when teaching John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” I used to draw the image of an urn on the board, along with a young man who seemed to be pondering the meanings of the patterns on the urn. This made the abstract and foreign socio-cultural context look like what happens when students encounter artistic object themselves. Often, I used real objects, an approach that most literature teachers would consier too silly for this level. I also used my experience of reciting poetry in order to bring out the tone and voice in the poems.
Critical and Creative Thinking (upper division course). Critical and Creative Thinking is a unique course in TU’s undergraduate English major curriculum. The “critical” section included readings on basic concepts of classical logic and more modern frameworks of critical thinking; the “creative” portion of the course contained problem-solving as well as conceptual reading based on art and literature. Teaching this course posed a different kind of challenge: students read about critical and creative thinking primarily for the sake of taking exams. So, in order to be efficient and cover the course within the available time, the teacher may need to curb his or her urge to involve students in practical activities! I learned while teaching this course that that such a situation doesn’t have to be a double bind: when I departed from the regular course of giving lectures and involved students in critical or creative problem-solving exercises, students more motivated and more able to understand the subject matter. This course reminded me of the Chinese saying: Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, but involve me and I will learn.
Business English (lower division courses for Bachelor of Business Administration students). The Bachelor of Business Administrator program was new at Campion as well as in the parent university at the time. This required course, also called English for Business and Economics, included principles of business communication, practice in genres of business writing, readings on related subjects ranging from economics and financial markets to international business, and English grammar and composition sections. I taught this course when the BBA program was first established in the university, but was able to draw on the content knowledge from my own dual majors in English and Economics, my technological savvy that teaching in this program demanded, and extensive prior experiences in teaching English. I optimally used the computer lab–which had a full range of hardward and software as well as technical support–when academic technology was still a rare phenomenon in the country. The experience of teaching a series of Business Writing for several years in this college formed the basis of my interest and expertise in teaching with technology, as well as teaching business and professional writing.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING (1994-2000)
GEMS (High School English Teacher), Lalitpur, Kathmandu, 1998-2000. I taught at GEMS (popular acronym for “Graded English Medium School”), one of Kathmandu’s best private schools, while studying my master’s degree in Tribhuvan University. Teaching at GEMS provided me not only continue to hone my teaching and mentoring skills as a high school teacher, it also gave me tremendously added new opportunities and resources with which to support students grow intellectually, socially, and in various other ways. GEMS had a wide range of resources for academic and co-curricular development of students, and it also had some of the best teachers/experts and therefore students in secondary school level sports, art, music, and activities of various types. I actively contributed to both the academic and co-curricular activities, including taking students from the drama club to contests on the national level. Upon graduating from Tribhuvan University as the gold medalist of the MA batch of 1997-99, I decided to leave GEMS in 2000 and moved on to higher education, which was my long term albeit conflicting goal vis-a-vis teaching in high school. But the passion for teaching which, in all honesty, GEMS instilled in my then 5th-6th years of teaching career has remained to this day, more than a decade after leaving this wonderful school which in Kathmandu.
New Pinewood School (Elementary School English Teacher), Butwal, Nepal, 1994-97. I started my teaching career at New Pinewood, a small private school in Butwal, during my undergraduate years. After teaching at the elementary level for some time, I taught in the middle school section. At Pinewood, I was involved in every aspect of the lives of students because in that little town in western Nepal, the culture did not make much spatial or temporal distinction between public and private, personal and professional domains of life and profession. I remember experiences ranging from litho-printing questions for final examinations overnight at the old school building, to being a music coach for students competing at a district level music competition, to substituting math and science teachers–and being asked by third-graders to continue teaching them math.