As an associate professor of literature and composition at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke, since 2006, I have enjoyed the chance to work with inspiring students and wonderful colleagues, teach meaningful texts, and pursue the ideas that capture my imagination.
I was born Nov. 4, 1978, in Durham, N.C. I attended Orange County schools, graduating high school in 1996. In 1995, I attended North Carolina's Governor's School East, at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, where I studied French and met my future wife. I majored in English and minored in religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. There, I enjoyed working at The Daily Tar Heel, especially my senior year when I served as editorial page editor. I graduated with highest honors in 2000, after writing my senior thesis on intersections of race and environmental consciousness in fiction and nonfiction by poor white southerners -- an area of study I continue to pursue. In 2000, I began graduate study at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, earning my master's of arts in English in 2001 and my doctorate in 2006. At Vanderbilt, I delved into the fields of African American literature, 20th century American literature, environmental literature, and ecocriticism, writing my dissertation, under the supervision of professors Michael Kreyling, Vereen Bell, Sheila Smith McKoy, and Cecelia Tichi, on the intersections of culture, agriculture, and environmental consciousness in the works of Robert Frost, Zora Neale Hurston, George W. Lee, John Steinbeck, and Jane Smiley. These ideas continue to capture my imagination as I work to revise my research into articles.
At UNC Pembroke, I teach African American literature (ENG 2100, "African American Literature: Traditions and Contexts," and ENG 3100, "The Harlem Renaissance), Environmental LIterature (AIS/ENG 2410, a course I team-teach with Professor Jane Haladay of American Indian Studies), and first-year composition (ENG 1050, "Composition I," and ENG 1060, "Composition II").
My research grows out of and inspires my teaching. My primary field of study focuses on representations of the environment in African American literature, in such works as W.E.B. Du Bois's The Philadelphia Negro (1899) and The Souls of Black Folk (1903), Booker T. Washington's Up from Slavery (1901), Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), George W. Lee's River George (1937), Richard Wright's Black Boy (1945), and Ann Petry's The Street (1946). I currently am working on a book-length manuscript with Jane Haladay on teaching environmental literature in southeastern North Carolina.
Fundamentally, the forces that drive my teaching, research, and writing are the students in my classes. They ask the questions that make me see anew the things I thought I knew, and they show me new insights on things I had not yet considered. I enjoy seeing my students grow from one class to another, and it's a pleasure seeing the difference they're making in our world.