- My critical thesis, “A Visual Approach to Image and Syntactical Patterns in Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” began as an annotated reading and evolved into an altered book that included watercolor paintings, drawings, and tiny photographs pasted in. I used the altered book as a reference when I wrote my 75-page critical essay. The essay and images were published at Numéro Cinq, an online journal for literary-minded readers and writers.
Read the full thesis and view images
Since the essay’s publication in 2013, colleges and high schools have linked to it as part of their curricula. One example is Garfield High School in Los Angeles, California: http://www.garfieldhs.org/apps/news/article/374632
- In 2012-2013, Steven David Johnson (SCAD MFA 2001) and I spent a year living in southern Oregon and responding with writing and art to the wonder we experienced in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Our collaborative website features my writing and watercolor sketches and his photography at: www.cascade-siskiyou.org
- In summer 2016, I participated in a grant-funded research institute with the National Endowment for the Humanities called “Take Note and Remember,” a study of historical commonplace books and their descendants: scrapbooks, friendship albums, artist books, and today’s digital equivalents such as social media. This seminar led to an invitation for me to present a lecture and workshop at Winthrop University. My talk was entitled, “Embellished Note-Taking: Transforming Text with Image.” The NEH seminar also inspired ongoing professional work related to using commonplace books as a pedagogical strategy. For instance, I have my writing students construct hand-made books in which to record quotations and passages from their reading assignments.
A Commonplace Book is a handmade book I constructed in response to my study of commonplace books. My hand-made accordion book was featured in a gallery exhibition at Winthrop University in South Carolina from September 22-November 17, 2017. Below is an individual page from my book. This image was used on publicity for the gallery show and related events.
- The peer-reviewed scholarly journal SPELT (Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers) published my essay, “How to Teach Students to Organize their Essays,” in 2017. This essay includes my hand-drawn illustrations to serve as metaphors for different tasks in the writing process. When I teach writing classes, I draw these images on the whiteboard in class as I explain the concepts. I’ve found that incorporating visual teaching methods benefits all students, but particularly those who are English language learners or those who have learning differences or attention disorders.
- As a second example of teamwork, I’m including a collaborative essay published in the Australian-based scholarly journal PAN (Philosophy, Activism, Nature), connected with Monash University. This meditative essay reflects on the biology of lichens and how they are a metaphor for human relationships. I co-wrote this piece with lichenologist John Villella, who provided the scientific grounding, while I provided the literary sensibility and philosophical reflections. Steven David Johnson provided photographs of lichens to illustrate.
6. Finally, I’ll close with a lyric essay on “Whirpools,” featuring illustrations by Steven David Johnson, published in the online literary magazine Flycatcher.