Professor H. (as his students affectionately call him) is interested in fresh ideas and new directions. “In addition to covering the class reading materials, I enjoy learning about my students – their interests, their space and their challenges.” His innovative teaching approach includes starting each class with music, from spirituals and jazz to R&B and rap. “Music is central to African American literature.”
Professor H. came to SIUE in 2003. He attended Tougaloo College in Mississippi as an undergraduate and earned his master’s and Ph.D. in English at Pennsylvania State University. He has also studied in Ghana, Nigeria, France and New York City. He is passionate about modern black literature; visual literacy; textual scholarship (how book designs influence readers); and African American authors Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston and Colson Whitehead.
Inspiration came from two people: An undergraduate professor who would sit with him and talk for hours about fascinating ideas; and a teacher who was close to his age and pursuing her Ph.D. “She made me see that it’s possible to be cool and hip and get a Ph.D.,” he said.
“Students are all so different,” he said. “A good student has original approaches to acquiring and sharing knowledge. A good student is really enthusiastic.” Coincidentally, his students say the same about him.