If you had asked four-year-old me what my dream job would be, I'd probably have answered that I wanted to read books and talk to smart people about them. And, quite a few years and one UVA PhD later, that remains what I enjoy most about teaching: not just hearing what my invariably sharp and perceptive students think about the books (and films, and TV shows, and videogames, etc.) that we're experiencing together, but also helping them to better elaborate those thoughts and hook them into larger questions that will stick with them throughout their studies and long after. The Engagements curriculum allows me to build my classes around these moments of discovery, whether in conjunction with trips to the Scholars' Lab and Special Collections, or in walks around Grounds, or in projects combining personal hobbies and interests with academic rigor. I welcome everyone's odd obsessions; I am always available for geeking out.
My teaching in recent years reflects my own obsessive oddities, ranging from memes to media horror and conspiracy theories to videogames, with surveys of American, British, and international novels mixed in. I've also written on a wide variety of subjects, including creepypastas, zombies, Pokémon, and the Irish writer Flann O'Brien (in connection with Pac Man, naturally). I have a particular love for bad or broken art—whether in movies like The Room, TV shows like The Star Wars Holiday Special, or too many videogames to count—as well as all manner of glitches, errors, bugs, and malfunctions, all of which I eagerly encourage in classroom coursework and discussions. My aim in approaching various artworks or cultural issues is never to establish what the right or wrong answers are, or which are the "correct" questions to ask; instead, it's to figure out, together, which questions and answers are the most useful and productive in any given society at any given time—and to be aware that quite often it's not the ones you expect.