Internet is wonderful, but much of our collective past will never reach
the Web unless researchers do the preliminary digging (even around
toppled gravestones).” - Tim Bintrim
My teaching and publications stress real-world applications of archival research. For example, my first-year composition students profile a historic place that is in some way connected with their home, family, or passions. Many discover local histories, interview elders, and take original
photographs of their site, all of which makes this first project significant. One student found his eighth great-grandfather, a colonel in the British Army, had directed the building of Fort Ligonier. Another wrote about his hunting spot marked by sinkholes from underground mine
fires. The smoke rising from the earth, he thought, linked him to several generations of coalminer ancestors. My own research into century-old newspaper articles caused the gravestone of a once-famous American illustrator, Charles Stanley Reinhart, to be raised and
remounted at Allegheny Cemetery of Pittsburgh. The Internet is wonderful, but much of our collective past will never reach the Web unless researchers do the preliminary digging (even around toppled gravestones).
Since 2007, I have developed courses in Western Pennsylvania Women Writers, Environmental Literature (team-taught on campus and at Juniata College’s Raystown Field Station), and Literature and Medicine. A founder of SFU’s biennial literary retreat on Western
Pennsylvania Women Writers, I continue researching Willa Cather’s Pittsburgh decade (1896-1906). With other faculty, I have taken students off campus for a literary tour of Pittsburgh, a senior capstone course at the Harmonist village at Economy, PA, historical tours of the Mount
Assisi Gardens built by steel-master Charles M. Schwab, and three overnight kayak trips to Raystown Lake. I am co-advisor with Lane Loya of the Environmental Action Society.
In June 2017, I will co-direct the Cather International Seminar in Pittsburgh at Duquesne University with colleagues and students from Saint Francis University, Duquesne, Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, the Cather Foundation in Red Cloud, NE, and the Cather
Project at University of Nebraska- Lincoln. The week-long seminar attracts two hundred scholars from across the United States.
In 1996, with fellow graduate student Ellen Foster, I proposed, developed, and directed Cather's Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh's Cather, a three-day commemoration of the centennial of Willa Cather's arrival in Pittsburgh, held Sept. 6-8, 1996, at Duquesne University. The
conference was noticed by regional papers and nationally through the Associated Press. More than ninety persons from thirteen states enjoyed the walking tours, scholarly papers, a dramatized reading, and a concert of Cather's friend Ethelbert Nevin's music, later released on
At Saint Francis University, I have been an organizer and presenter at three biennial summer literary retreats on Western Pennsylvania Women Writers, the first of which featured Cather, Dillard, and Davis.
Directed Student Presentations/Independent Studies for:
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