Professor of English
Office: Wendell Phillips Center, 125
PhD, English, Penn State, 1998
BA, Music, West Virginia University, 1986
I love to see students engaged in their learning - so we work together on projects and activities that move beyond the classroom. My "Professional Communications" helps students develop their writing skills and build their resumes by creating documents for real clients in the Stockton area, such as the Delta Blood Bank and the American Red Cross.
Students in my "Arts and Community" course partner with Stockton arts organizations like the Haggin Museum, Sunflower Presents, and Harmony Stockton. Even my literature students get in on the action, with a well-attended public Jane Austen Night event that showcases their semester projects. I want education to come alive for Pacific students!
I'm interested in how literature and culture intersect, and this is reflected in the courses I teach. There are, for instance, literally hundreds of fan fiction sequels, prequels, and modern adaptations of Jane Austen's works (including a Bollywood musical!), and if you Google Austen, you'll see a flood of websites. Why do so many readers connect with a writer who's been dead for 200 years, and what might that tell us about our culture?
As for war literature - this deeply important subject is approached by a range of writers from journalists and novelists to veterans themselves. How do authors use different forms and genres (novels, journals, letters, first-person narratives, screenplays) to reach out? What sorts of political or cultural goals might they have? I also teach a 'banned books' course that looks at why certain books are considered dangerous and examines what's at stake as people try to silence particular viewpoints, whether liberal or conservative. My interests challenge students to see the connection between what they read and the world around them.
Creative Writing: Nonfiction
Introduction to Literature: Banned Books
PACS2: Arts and Community
Smith is the author of All Roads Lead to Austen, a travel narrative about a year spent in Latin America. She visited eight countries and learned Spanish while holding Jane Austen reading groups in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina. All Roads Lead to Austen was praised by Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher's Weekly.
Smith has written on Austen for USA Today, The Huffington Post, and Publisher's Weekly, among others (see links on CV). She has taught in Chile and in Prague and has given talks across the United States as well as in Chile, Paraguay, and Egypt. She's currently at work on the first novel of a mystery series set in Buenos Aires, Argentina.