September 26, 2014
Letter of Intent to Apply for Promotion to Full Professor
Please consider this letter my application for promotion to the rank of Professor of English at Middle Georgia State College. Since the fall of 2002, I have worked as tenure-track and tenured faculty member in both the Departments of English and Media, Culture & the Arts. My professional pursuits have emphasized new media and the digital humanities, bringing together art and science in my scholarship, teaching, and service. I have developed innovative approaches to teaching using social media and mobile digital devices; taught courses in new media theory, digital production, and digital humanities; served my professional and campus communities as a coordinator, speaker, and digital media specialist; and published at the intersection of literary studies and new media. I believe these qualifications make me a strong candidate for promotion to full professor.
I have worked at Macon State and Middle Georgia State since 2002 in various positions and departments. In 2009, I was tenured and promoted to an Associate Professor of English. Shortly after, I began building a new department—Media, Culture & the Arts—and revising our flagship degree—Communication and Information Technology—as its new coordinator.
While my title retains “English,” I might more accurately be described as a digital humanist, teaching primarily new media theory, digital humanities, cultural studies, and digital writing courses. For example, during the spring semester of 2013, I developed and taught a fully online section of Writing for Digital Media and a cultural studies course called “Norman Mailer’s ‘America’” where technology in the classroom played an integral role. I have also developed and taught “eText Authoring”—an iPad-supported course—and two sections of selected topics designed as introductions to Digital Humanities. In 2014, my innovations in the classroom earned me a nomination for the Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award for Online Teaching.
Two ideas provide the foundation for these courses:
- use networked digital technologies to allow the students to engage the materials in unique ways, and
- use hardware and software that was accessible to all students.
Course lessons are delivered on my web site, and students use Twitter and other social media platforms to participate with the materials and each other. For example: upon entering “Norman Mailer’s ‘America’” a majority of the class did not even know who Norman Mailer was; however, by assigning primary materials and prompting students to investigate them through the various media available online, they left the class with a solid knowledge of Mailer, a new understanding of the role he played in 20th-century, American culture, and a new fluency in digital media.
Similarly, in Writing for Digital Media, students use Twitter to discuss content, interact with me, and present findings and examples of strong digital writing. The students learn by experiencing digital composition firsthand, creating their own focused blogs, and working together on a comprehensive wiki project. By writing with the tools they study, they learn crucial digital literacies necessary for today’s media professionals. Examples of lessons and student work may be found on my teaching web site LitMUSE.
To support my classroom goals, I wrote a grant in the spring of 2012 for thirty iPads. I received the grant and developed my “eText Authoring” course and an iTunes U section of HUMN 2151, “Digital Cultures.” Students in both courses were equipped with iPads for the semester; the former developed their authoring skills via iBooks Author, publishing their final projects for iBooks, and the latter had course content delivered to their iPads by iTunes U. Both classes were successful, but I plan to use the more platform-independent Habitat from Inkling to teach “eText Authoring” in the future.
This fall, I have combined my teaching and research interests in Digital Humanities (DH): an emerging field that combines the analytical and interpretive approaches of the Humanities with the quantitative and representational aspects of digital media. Currently, I’m teaching a section of NMAC 3999 that provides students with a foundation in DH theory and allows them to collaborate in building their own DH projects. For example, while DH is an interdisciplinary field that covers many research approaches to many fields, we have chosen to look at the remediation of literary texts from paper to the screen. Not only are we considering the implications of such a practice, but we are also designing interfaces, encoding texts, and bring other multimodal approaches to the study of literature.
Last summer, I was selected out of a pool of hundreds of applicants from around the world as a Norman Mailer Fellow. I traveled to Salt Lake City for three weeks to workshop a proposal for an original DH project: the Digital Mailer Project (DMP). The DMP proposes a standard archive and interface for experiencing the life and work of Norman Mailer for an audience of scholars, enthusiasts, and students: an online digital community for the study and preservation of Mailer’s work. The fellowship allowed me time to research, theorize, and write a proposal which I will present to the Norman Mailer Society at the upcoming conference in October. I have already received the support and assistance of Mailer’s biographer J. Michael Lennon and a financial promise of support from one of Mailer’s children. While only in its initial stages, the DMP is off to a positive start.
My other scholarship also revolves around the intersection of art and science, particularly how digital technology changes literary study. In my most recent article, “Teaching Norman Mailer in the Cloud,” I discuss the gadget-assisted pedagogy I developed for my recent cultural studies course outlined above. I use a hybrid approach—pedagogy, media theory, and literary criticism—to examine a digitally supported humanities classroom. In “Norman Mailer and the Novel 2.0,” I examine Mailer’s The Armies of the Night and argue that he pushed the novel beyond its traditional boundaries and predicted multi-genre, participatory culture. Even though Mailer famously resisted technology, his own artistic refusal to be determined by genre made him an exemplar of a civilly engaged citizen and artist with a social conscience and responsibility to change the rules.
Currently, I am writing an electronic textbook with Inkling’s Habitat, tentatively called Writing Digital Media: A Social Media Approach. A book about digital media should use the most current and accessible format for delivery, incorporating various media, participatory lessons, and online resources. The book will take a top-down approach, examining current web-based and mobile apps for communication—both professional and creative—and discuss effective writing in new contexts. It will target classes like my Writing for Digital Media that exist somewhere in the nexus of technical and professional writing, but emphasizing the social media and creative contribution.
As the Coordinator of the CIT Program at Macon State, I led its curriculum revision to create a new degree: New Media and Communications (NMAC). Several new courses were added, including the capstone Senior Portfolio, in which students make the transition from college to the professional world by creating and building an online, web-based portfolio that highlights their skills as new media professionals. The NMAC degree allows students more flexibility in designing aspects of the degree that interest them and facilitates their timely progression through the program.
Additionally, I have served as on the Executive Board of the Norman Mailer Society since 2006. Part of my professional service has also includes acting as an Associate Editor of the Society’s scholarly journal The Mailer Review which I have done since its inception in 2007. I regularly attend the Society’s annual conference and serve in various capacities, including maintaining the web site, moderating panels, and taking photographs of the proceedings.
All the information presented here and on my CV below may also be found on my web site. I would encourage you to have a look, as the site also contains links to my blog, teaching philosophy, and additional materials germane to English and media studies. I have reproduced some of this material in the appendix of this portfolio. Thank you for your time and consideration. If I can answer any questions or supply any more information, please let me know. I look forward to meeting with the committee in November.