Ofstad Visiting Scholar Program

Ofstad Visiting Scholars and Workshops

Fall 2021

Dr. Angela Shaw-Thornburg
Angela Shaw-ThornbergFall 2021 First-Block Course
ENG 331: Studies in African-American Literature
“What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black?”: Black Childhood, History, and Trauma in American Literature and Culture

This seven-week course explores the representation of Black children and their history in American literature and culture. Black literature and culture are rich with stories of resilience, triumph over seemingly impossible odds, and what it means to come of age in a society in which racial trauma and violence are part of the rites of passage. In this interdisciplinary course, learners will have the opportunity to examine critically and creatively literature, film, music, and art about Black children and Black childhood, with particular attention to work by and about Black girls and women. Dr. Angela Shaw-Thornburg (Ph.D. in English, Rutgers University, 2006) is an independent scholar with extensive research and teaching experience in the areas of African American literature and culture, women’s studies, and higher education.

Maria Miranda Maloney
Maria Miranda MaloneyCRWT 418: One-Week Poetry Workshop
September 13-17, 2021 (in person)

From September 13-17 of 2021 students will have a unique opportunity to study and work with Maria Miranda Maloney, a leading Latina poet, editor, and bilingual publisher.  Students of this one-week class will get help with their poetry writing, including advice from someone who has actually run a highly successful small press, and will also learn a lot about contemporary issues in Latinx writing and studies. Maria Miranda Maloney is the founder of Mouthfeel Press a Bilingual Press that has published dozens of books of poetry in English and Spanish, and the author of The Lost Letters of Mileva (Pandora Lobo Productions Press, 2014) and The City I Love (Ranchos Press, 2011).  Her poetry and essays have appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, MiPoesias, The Catholic Reporter, The Texas Review, Acentos Review, and many other literary journals.  She is the literary curator and Outreach Coordinator for The Smithsonian Latino Center, Washington D.C. She is currently a reading and writing teacher at Trinity ISD in Texas.

Dra. Megan Figueroa
Megan FigueroaLING 413:  Language and Social/Racial Justice
September  6-10, 2021 (in person)

“What’s language got to do with racial and social justice?” Language and social and racial justice are intrinsically linked. In this one-week course, we will explore how social and racial justice are inseparable from the study and use of language. This course is relevant to any student of linguistics, or any person who wants to know more about how language affects their everyday life. At the end of the week, students will be better equipped to identify how linguistic bias oppresses speakers/signers and how to spot linguistic discrimination. Throughout the week, students will work on a podcast episode or zine on a real-life instance of linguistic discrimination. This special Ofstad workshop will be taught by visiting Ofstad scholar Dra. Megan Figueroa, research scientist at the Tweety Language Development Lab at the University of Arizona, though perhaps better known as co-host of the popular podcast, The Vocal Fries.


Dr. Tabitha Lowery
Tabitha LoweryENG 418: Black in the Past: Octavia Butler’s Grim Fantasy
January 30-February 6, 2022

Deemed the godmother of Afrofuturism, the celebrated African American writer Octavia Butler left behind a career that changed the science-fiction world entirely after her unexpected passing in 2006. As the first-ever science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, Butler wrote with an eye towards the future and consistently offered an honest observation of humanity. Though one of a few Black women writers publishing in the white-male dominated science fiction genre, Butler transcended conventions and offered outlooks on not only issues of race, gender, sex, and power, but of empathy, social normativity, environmentalism, and many more. This course will take a look at Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation to discover Butler’s reimagining of a past filled with memory, pain, and terror. We will explore how the graphic novel form enhances our readings of Butler’s text and how it helps readers confront the past. We will culminate the class with a creative project that gathers elements of the historical past to inform our present and futures. Butler’s novel has proven timeless, just as her legacy. As Kindred shows, sometimes confronting our nation’s past can be painful, but necessary. The workshop is led by Dr. Tabitha Lowery, assistant professor of African American literature and culture at Coastal Carolina University.

Mark Wisniewski
Mark WisniewskiCRWT 418: The Five Major Steps to Writing a Short Story
March 28-April 1, 2022

A one-week workshop, given by a best-selling writer of literary fiction (both short stories and novels), in the art and practice of writing short stories. Mark Wisniewski will take his students through the five key steps to starting, drafting, and completing a short story: 1) brainstorming and outlining; 2) Plot structuring and point of view; 3) Choosing the optimal voice, beginning to draft (endings first!); Drafting the middle of the story and line-editing; 5) Completing and sharing the finished product with others via a reading.  Mark Wisniewski is a widely published fiction writer whose work has been praised by people ranging from Salman Rushdie to Daniel Woodrell. He is also one of the top Book Doctors in the country, who has helped dozens of people find publication, secure agents, and win national fiction awards.