Research interests

Primary interests:

Composite narrative

Also called the story cycle, linked stories, or a novel-in-stories: a narrative that combines the multiple storylines of a collection or anthology with the unity of a novel, often through shared characters or settings. This is part of my broader interest in narrative and narrators.

Creative writing pedagogy

Specialty in fiction, but also includes poetry, and creative nonfiction. I love studying graphic storytelling (graphic novels, comic books) as well. I also have a side interest in the image of the creative writer in popular media (see below).

Popular culture studies

For more details on popular culture studies, see my page on pop culture and check out my blog entries on the PCA/ACA conferences I’ve attended. While my own interests are in creative writers and fiction in pop culture (as well as a healthy dose of vampirology), I also incorporate pop culture studies into my research composition courses to give my students the greatest variety of research topics that will directly interest them. Consequently, through my students’ work, I wind up studying a little bit of everything whenever I teach research composition.

Postmortal fiction

Fiction in which the major character — often, the narrator — is dead, yet persists in some form of continued existence, usually an “afterlife.” The genre eschews religious imagery and sometimes even shies from philosophical digressions; the emphasis in this fiction is usually on the continuity of narrative more than ethics, morals, or any form of “afterlife.”

Southern fiction (modern and contemporary)

Examines fiction from Texas and the Deep South, from William Faulkner and Eudora Welty to Flannery O’Connor, Katherine Ann Porter, and especially to contemporary writers like Cormac McCarthy and Tom Franklin.

Secondary interests

Comics and graphic narrative

The art and craft of visual storytelling. My artistic skills are next to nil, so my primary focus is on the craft of visual storytelling, with heavy emphasis on the craft discussions of Will Eisner and Scott McCloud. My reading interests are heavily Western, particularly American and British comics, though I’ve enjoyed Continental European comics and have been exploring manga recently. I grew up on superhero comics, then branched into the sci-fi comics of Dark Horse; more recently, I’ve been reading more stand-alone graphic novels that deconstruct the superhero mythology, especially in works by Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, and Alan Moore.

Religious motifs in literature

Includes both broad religio-philosophical themes in contemporary literature as well as critical, literary analysis of religious scripture. While my main areas of study are Buddhism and Christianity, I recently lived a few years in a Muslim country, which has afforded me a deeper understanding of Islam. In general, I like to study all the world’s religions.

Vampire (film and fiction)

Examines the cinematic and literary fascination with vampire characters, from early Gothic specters to postmodern androgynous rebels.

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