Jennifer van Alstyne teaches composition and literature in the English Department at University of Louisiana, a public regional research university. She will complete her Online Teaching Certification through the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) with a concentration in Course Design this Spring.

Courses Taught

EN101: Intro to Academic Writing, 2 sections, Fall 2017

EN201: British Literature Survey I, 1 section, Spring 2018, online

Teaching Statement

As a poet, I stress creative writing as an access point for learning how to construct academic papers when teaching English Composition. Skills for academic writing like selection of detail, concise and specific language, and scaffolding for a reader can be practiced through creative writing as a point of access to cultural conversation.

By utilizing personal experience, memory, and research, students practice positioning life experience within the context of social and cultural discussion on contemporary issues ranging from online dating to poverty in Tijuana trash piles with Luis Urrea.

The second skill set I stress in classes is that writing is a work in progress, one which can be done in both long and short-form. My students practice writing with the same level of detail in both short in-class writings and longer papers through Writing Lab, short in-class writings which were drafted, peer reviewed, and revised within a 48 hour period. In one instance, students showed strength in selection of detail when responding to Alexis de Madrigal’s “Take the Data Out of Dating,” when they either had to respond creatively by writing a narrative of a terrible date, or by drafting an argument for or against online dating us utilizing Science of Relationships, a website on intimate relationships run by research psychologists in conjunction with the Madrigal article. Each of these practice selection and inclusion of detail, though different types, and allows students to become comfortable peer reviewing and sharing publicly, works in progress.

“…one had to classify oneself as a scholar of a certain historical period in England or America…Yet I had seen that many of my teachers, though officially scholars of a given period, were internally something else. These were poetry people.”

– Helen Vendler

The Ocean, The Book, and the Scholar: Essays on Poets and Poetry (2015)

My primary area of interest is landscape and representations of nature in medieval poetry with a specialty in Arthurian Romance. My secondary area of interest is Contemporary American Poetry. As such, my composition students also practice literature analysis through poetry like “My Papa’s Waltz,” by Theodore Roethke, close reading lines like “my mother’s countenance / could not unfrown itself.” Students encountering an unfamiliar word, and drafting arguments for or against possible hints of abuse within the poem like, “The hand that held my wrist / was battered on one knuckle,” allows them to hold interpretations of both abuse and love with the same literary legitimacy. 

I am prepared to teach courses in creative writing, professional writing, British literature, and Postmodern/Contemporary American poetry.

My online teaching certification through the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), a certificate with a concentration in Online Course design, is in process with coursework completed.

I am currently teaching an online course, a 200-level undergraduate survey British Literature I in which students are introduced to historically foreign texts by experiencing the most recent first.

“Reverse chronological order. The subject matter of this course is comprised of thematically and generically coherent selections of British literature up to the year 1800. Going backwards in history is done for three reasons: to generate interest among non-specialists, to facilitate comprehension of the language used, and to draw attention to the relevance of the material to 21st century readers.

– British Literature I, survey syllabus

Students are also introduced to foreign techniques like scansion and meter by working with contemporary texts like their favorite song simultaneously with Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets. They learn the elements of constructing each type of sonnet by writing their own and peer reviewing each others based on the constraints of the form.

I am dedicated to bringing the insights and intersection of creative and critical attention to language to the undergraduate classroom, both through student writing, and through both synchronous and asynchronous discussion on a variety of texts and genres.

Additional Resources

Check out my Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Sample Syllabus: Composition I

Sample Syllabus: British Literature I