Passions & Projects
These are brief glimpses into some of the projects and experiences that have defined my career as a writer, researcher, and teacher. I prefer to engage deeply with subjects and follow them as far as I possibly can in order to share this knowledge with my students and others.
Let Genius Burn
In late 2019, Jill Fuller, a librarian and historian in Wisconsin, approached me about collaborating on a project about Louisa May Alcott's life. I had been studying Alcott in depth since I began working as a guide and educator at Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House in 2009, but I had never created a project of this scope with my research.
Over the next two years, Jill and I wrote and recorded an eight-episode limited series podcast, which explores Alcott's life through different lenses. We consider her as a sister, an activist, and a celebrity, among other aspects of her identity.
The podcast was very well received, and in our first year, we were invited to speak at the Alcott birthday celebration for the Louisa May Alcott Society. Since then, we have recorded a second season of the podcast which features interviews with preeminent Alcott scholars.
Alcott's life has always been an inspiration to me. Beyond her writing, her morals and values have been a compass for my own life.
Informative and inspirational
Love this podcast! Jill and Jamie are so knowledgeable about Louisa May Alcott’s life and writing as well as the time period she lived in. They blend scholarly and illuminating content with enthusiasm and passion, and they cover a wide range of topics.
France & French Culture
Although I majored in French in college, I couldn't really speak a word of it, not outside of a classroom, not conversationally in real life contexts.
I earned my TEFL certificate in the fall of 2010 at a teacher training center outside of Paris, and I stayed in France teaching English for the following two school years. I was placed in Dijon, France, in Burgundy. I learned to speak fluently in any situation.
My love of French culture was also the basis for my undergraduate thesis, which was about literary Impressionism in the works of New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield.
In 2017, I returned to France for another school year with TAPIF, the Teaching Assistants Program in France, this time in the Loire Valley. I benefited from the French school schedule to grow my writing business and work on creative projects.
While living in Colorado, I held community French lessons every week in a local church, and I taught French at Colorado Mountain College.
Dante & the Divine Comedy
While at Salve Regina University, I was part of the Pell Honors Program, which "seeks to provide students with a lively community of highly motivated peers and faculty mentors drawn from many departments and disciplines, united by a passion for and dedication to academic excellence, artistic creativity and intellectual curiosity."
I took a course through the honors program about the Divine Comedy with the late Nobel laureate Dr. Peter Liotta. In the course, we spent a semester studying Inferno and another semester on Purgatory and Paradise. I learned to see how poetry permeates life, how poetry is often truer than life, and how to incorporate its meanings into my own writing.
In the spring of 2009, Dr. Liotta took the class to Italy to continue our study of Dante, where we stayed in Tuscany and explored several of the cities and villages mentioned in The Divine Comedy. We also travelled to Ravenna to see Dante's tomb.
My study of Dante continued in the summer of 2022at the Martin Bodmer Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland.
Food & Farming
In 2012, I returned from my years teaching in France, and I found the most difficult aspect of reverse culture shock in America was eating.
I decided to learn what I could about where my food came from, so I began volunteering through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). My journey began on a cow dairy in western Massachusetts and took me eventually to several other states, including northwest Colorado, where I lived for 6 years and worked on a goat dairy.
During my time in Colorado, I learned to grow vegetables in an extreme alpine desert climate. I cared for many animals. I brought these hands-on experiences to my study of literature and to my own writing.
Examples of my research in food studies:
"Both Sides of the Fence: Animal Farm as a Freedom Narrative from the Future"
University of North Carolina at Charlotte English Graduate Student Association Annual Conference
"Considerations of a Hungry Man: Frederick Douglass’s Freedom through Food Narrative"
North Carolina State University English Graduate Student Association Conference
"Farmer’s Drudge: Representations of Farmers in the Work of Louisa May Alcott"
Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House Summer Conversational Series
"“It’s All Vegetables!": Ethical and Sustainable Eating with Louisa May Alcott"
Thoreau Society Annual Gathering
For all that she is, Taylor Swift is to me—first and always—a writer: she can take an emotion or an experience so big and wild and distill it into a few minutes, or she can take an emotion or an experience so tiny and insignificant and explode it, to show it is much bigger than we thought.
I have always maintained that her work is not lesser for seeming so simple. Her words always seem effortless—obvious, even—yet so few working writers are as succinct or as clear. That has always been her specific genius and, in my opinion, the greatest success of her work.
As her career progresses and her legacy to protect artists' rights becomes more clear, there will be scholarship regarding Swift's work for decades to come. I intend to be at the forefront of this scholarship, so I created Swifticism, a publication that takes Swift's work as serious and literary and deserving of critical readings.
For many years, I have used maps as outlines for essay writing. It occurred to me that these outlines could constitute essays unto themselves.
I began developing this idea while I was in residency at Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, Colorado in 2020. It was the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I was trying to find ways to disconnect from the virtual world and maintain groundedness in writing.
These essays toe the line between prose and visual art. They resist digitalization, as they are handwritten and large scale. They were made by hand and are designed to be appreciated in person.