What prompted your interest in the Place Studies program?
I chose UNL because of my interests in ecocriticism and Great Plains studies, and the classes I have taken here have helped me both gain knowledge and learn to ask more useful questions. Professors like Robert Brooke, Tom Gannon, Tom Lynch, and especially Fran Kaye have challenged me to claim and participate in an ongoing discussion (inside and outside the academy) about what I believe is critically important: the life of the world, and the cultural practices by which we hurt, heal, and begin to know our place in it.
What have you accomplished with your focus in Place Studies?
I have been able to publish reviews of ecocritical and agrarian books in several journals, including Great Plains Quarterly and ISLE; to present at conferences held by the University of Nebraska's Center for Great Plains Studies and the Association for the Study of Literature & Environment; and to publish a co-authored essay on ecocritical theory and practice in the Journal of Ecocriticism. I also have a forthcoming essay on the rural Canadian prairie writer Sharon Butala and forthcoming presentations at the Under Western Skies 2 and Western Literature Association conferences.
My literature courses (such as classes in Native American literature, Canadian literature, global environmental literature, and ethnic literature & the law) and theory courses (such as critical race theory, literary theory and a special topics course on theories of biopolitics/biopower) have been instrumental in shaping this work, as has my study of the Omaha language.
As a graduate teaching assistant for first-year writing, I've been able to draw from a class I took in place-conscious education to shape my pedagogy in the classroom. I use activities like deep mapping and collaborative inquiry to help my students explore and write about local and global issues, as well as locate themselves within an academic space.
Outside of the academy, I've interned at the Center for Rural Affairs (for rural policy & advocacy) and Homestead National Monument (for curriculum development), and worked with a writer in Lincoln to help edit her book about energy and climate change. I currently tutor through Lincoln Literacy and participate in local activism.