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Faculty Research

Faculty in the Department have a variety of scholarly and pedagogical interests. Eventually, we hope to profile all of our faculty here, but to begin with, we've asked three professors to talk about their research, their teaching, and the ways they interact with students.

Dustin M. Hoffman

HoffmanDustinFiction writing is my obsession, and the short story is my favorite form in how it combines the economy of language found in poetry with our innate desire for stories told around the campfire. I recently coauthored an essay that identified seventeen different species of short story endings, and I’ve presented on a mathematical equation for narrative tension. My primary research and writing, though, goes toward fiction. I’ve published more than sixty short stories in literary magazines, including Black Warrior Review, Saturday Evening Post, The Adroit JournalWitness, and The Threepenny Review. My short story collection titled One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist won the 2015 Prairie Schooner Book Prize and was published by the University of Nebraska Press. This book focuses on another one of my obsessions: work. The stories explore blue-collar jobs, from house painters to roofers to Jamaican tour guides to ice-cream van drivers to aluminum can scavengers. I find the work that people do fascinating. There’s always a secret world and language to discover behind every EMPLOYEES ONLY door that I want to investigate.

Lately, I’ve been digging into the longform narrative. I’ve written a novel about working-class kids trapped in a rural Michigan hometown during a brutal winter. I’m also currently researching and drafting a novel inspired by the horrific prison labor practices of the 1890s. Beyond novels and short stories, love to collaborate in other mediums. I’ve written ekphrastic flash fiction responding to visual artists. I’ve worked with the Winthrop University composer Ronald Parks to create a micro-opera based on my fiction. I’ve also adapted my fiction to screenplay to make short films. I jump at opportunities to challenge myself with new forms of storytelling.

The experiences I gain from these diverse projects go directly into my classrooms. My creative writing classes help students craft their own short stories or novel projects. I strive to guide my students in navigating the literary marketplace, giving them advice in publishing their own work. My students have had great success in publishing their writing and winning awards for their creative work. Their publication successes thrill me even more than my own. Wherever I go with my writing, whatever I learn through my own art making and research, I bring back to my classroom so that we can all wonder at the world of literary arts together.


Robert Prickett

Prickett, Robert

I'm interested in multiple areas that all revolve around and play with three spheres: adolescent literature, teaching, and popular culture, specifically, asking questions such as: What is adolescent literature? What do adolescents read? Why do they select what they read? What do(es) the text(s) "say" to them or about them? How do we, as teachers (future or current) "use" adolescent literature in our classrooms? What about the growing popularity of adolescent literature with adults? How does technology change the way adolescent literature stories get told? How does it create new types of texts and styles? What about graphic novels? So many questions, so little time.

Currently, I (with a colleague from Winthrop University, Dept of English Department Chairperson, Dr. Casey Cothran) have two forthcoming things: (1) we are currently copy-editing a scholarly article about the noir graphic novel, The Fade Out, which will be published in the Winter edition of Clues: A Journal of Detection and (2) recently we were invited to write the chapter on Graphic Crime Fiction in the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Crime Fiction, which means we have to write it – there’s like a deadline and everything. 

What am I like as a teacher? Well, it changes daily, as needed . . . but if pushed for adjectives and adverbs and other words . . . Loud, energetic, passionate, a little ADHD (while at the same time focused on the overall goals of the course . . . yes, I know, ADHD and focused – paradox – what can I write? I am a complex personality). . . seeking understanding and community in the classroom . . . technologically playful . . . as likely to analyze a music video as Shakespeare . . . interactive . . . Because of my training, focus, and interest on education, I attempt to bring the best practices of my profession into my classes, regardless of content. So, yes, we will use crayons and draw while critically thinking about a text . . . even as adults. New technologies, strategies, and techniques mixed with old, tried and true to create a cooperative learning environment where the students take responsibility and help me facilitate the class.

In my short time at Winthrop, I have been privileged enough to help mentor multiple student papers and presentations, ranging from reading and offering advice to being a Masters' thesis advisor. The work has centered on some aspect of English Education (i.e. teaching Othello or using Facebook to teach The Great Gatsby) to young adult literature and graphic novels (i.e. using graphic novels in a high school classroom or Ms. Marvel). Several presentations have been submitted to national conferences and/or presented in undergraduate research conferences. I am also putting together a panel presentation proposal for this year's National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention featuring a group of teacher educators with the title: Finding their true voice: Teaching female coming-of-age graphic novels (for all).

Fun/Funky/Unexpected aspects about me as a scholar? How about . . . a couple of years ago, I had doughnut holes thrown at me by award-winning adolescent author Laurie Halse Anderson . . . OR . . . I have presented scholarly papers on Pippi Longstocking and Harry Potter and Roller Girl and Katniss Everdeen (not together – although . . . hmmmmmm) . . . OR. . . I am on a real adolescent literature graphic novel kick lately having taught and written about multiple graphic novels . . .


Kelly Richardson

Richardson, KellyAmerican Literature, particularly Nineteenth-Century American literature, is my primary interest. Instead of focusing only on a specific period or style, I find myself interested in seeing how different groups answer "big-picture" kinds of questions, particularly how they connect personal identity (especially as defined by gender) with spiritual definition. This emphasis on religious/spiritual questions leads me to investigate a range of writers from the Puritan to the contemporary, and I prefer that kind of comparative approach, especially as it also allows me to look at canonical and non-canonical responses. However, in recent years, I've become more and more interested in the works of Melville, and I've recently started looking at the effect of oceanic space on his work. In terms of theoretical approach, I think my work reflects feminist, New Historical, and environmental interests.

I'm a big believer in classrooms being conversational spaces. Students often have very little idea of how much difference they make in terms of the classroom experience. As I tell my classes, "I'm pretty much the same show" no matter what I'm teaching, but it's really the quality of the classroom discussion that creates an excellent class for me. I see my role as doing things to help set up that conversation: selecting relevant material, explaining key concepts and terms through short lectures, providing a sense of the larger framework and connections, and creating challenging assignments, but I also see my role as helping students develop their individual skills by giving them multiple writing and speaking opportunities. For example, a common thing I will do in an upper-level literature class is to provide a few opening discussion questions on the board that people will use to write a short response to. For example, if we were covering the first part of The Scarlet Letter in class, I may have discussion questions on the board focusing on the question of punishment, the role of spectacle, the technique of starting the novel in that way; students then choose one to write about for 5-10 minutes, and we use those questions as a foundation for the discussion. We can choose to stay with them, or connect with other ideas if needed. Then, after a few classes, I ask students to sign up for a day to bring in questions for the class. I mention this specific activity because it's a good example of how I like for everyone to be involved in the class.

In terms of whether my scholarship carries over, it doesn't always directly because many of the courses we offer are more historically-based or genre-based than my specific thematic interests. I like that, though, because it helps me to keep the big picture of American Literature in mind.

I really enjoy working with student writing. I'm interested in working with students who want to develop their craft as writers and thinkers of literature as well as meet their professional goals.

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