Teaching Portfolio


LL 095: Basic Writing

This course develops the basic skills in clear and appropriate expression in varied situations according to the standards of written English. Major reading assignments have included Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Richard Rodriguez’s Aria, and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Students write four or five essays.

LL 101: Composition I

This first-year writing course develops basic skills in clear and appropriate expression in varied academic writing situations according to the conventions of standard written English. Students learn different invention techniques, strategies for developing expository essays, the structure of an argument, including thesis and support, and are introduced to basic library and online research techniques. The major reading assignments are Homer’s The Odyssey and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Students write exploratory, narrative, analysis, and position essays.

LL 102: Composition II

This course continues the work of Composition I, adding practice in argument and persuasion and other rhetorical techniques. It also continues work on diction, usage, and sentence structure. Requirements include preparation of a research paper from library sources. The major reading assignments in this class are sections from Dante’s The Divine Comedy and Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men.

LL 151: Introduction to Literature

Introduction to Literature samples a variety of fiction, drama, and poetry concerned with themes of recurring interest in the world’s literature. This course considers how literature should be read and tries various approaches to reading and writing about literature. Students keep commonplace books, lead an activity, create a visual representation of a poem, and write a literary analysis paper.

LL 159: Literature and the Liberal Arts

This course introduces students to the fundamental components of the English Literature and Writing and Editing majors. Students explore perspectives on the liberal arts while gaining fundamental skills for literary analysis. Students also consider related professions and opportunities for future graduate study.

LL 240: Grammar and Language Studies

This course serves as an introduction to traditional English grammar with elements of structural and transformational grammar. Additionally, the course includes an investigation into the history of languages, particularly the development of English, with some attention to dialects, semantics, etymology, and general linguistics. Students take four exams, write response papers, and read a novel, Never Let Me Go.

LL 289: Native American Literature

This course is a study of the Native American literary tradition, from its beginnings to the present, with an emphasis on twentieth and twenty-first century writings. The course examines the distinctive features of Native American literature in specific historical periods, literary movements, and genres. We study themes, contexts, characterizations, narrative patterns, literary techniques, and cultural and political influences.

LL 315: Advanced Composition

In this writing-intensive course, students learn techniques of good expository writing with attention to the development of prose style in practical academic situations. It provides advanced-level instruction on working with both primary and secondary sources. The major reading assignments are Kathleen Norris’s Dakota, James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son, and Wendell Berry’s Our Only World. Students keep a writing notebook, prepare a lesson on a writing technique, and complete a service learning project. They write two short papers and a 10-page research paper.

LL 319: Research and Integrity in Writing

This course equips students with an understanding of citation and intellectual honesty in writing and editing. It also provides students with advanced-level research instruction. The major reading assignments are Little Women, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and O Pioneers! Students complete documentation and editing exercises, a data and digital research project, a blog post, and a research paper. They also compile a writing portfolio.

LL 356: Young Adult Literature

This course introduces students, especially those seeking secondary licensure in English, to quality young adult literature available for reading and study in the middle and high school classroom. We examine many of the issues surrounding young adult literature including censorship, appropriateness, and strategies for reading and using the literature in the classroom. The reading list includes both classic texts taught to young adults (i.e., To Kill a Mockingbird) as well as more current books, such as Sherman Alexie’s Flight or the graphic novel, American Born Chinese. Students present a lesson for young adults, complete annotations on novels, and write a researched literary analysis.

LL 366: American Literature I

American Literature I is a writing-intensive, English major course which includes critical reading of a few major American authors, especially Poe, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Melville. The course also provides coverage of colonial American literature, the African American literary tradition, Native American literature, and sentimental writings. Students lead a “Literature Activity,” and papers include a close reading essay and a researched position paper.

LL 367: American Literature II

This course covers American literature and literary movements since the Civil War with an emphasis on critical analysis of fiction, poetry, and drama. Students will read texts in light of their historical situations and literary traditions. Students teach a literature lesson and write three papers: close reading/analysis, application, and context essays. Authors covered include Twain, Chopin, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck.

LL 455: History of the Novel in English

This course focuses on critical reading of a selection of novels written in English, beginning with Defoe and ending with contemporary fiction. The purpose is to understand the novel tradition in English, its history, development, and possible future. Students in this course write weekly reflection papers, lead the class in discussion of a scholarly article, and write 10-12 page research papers.


ENG 1302: Thinking and Writing

This course emphasizes the basic skills students need to succeed in college. Students learn to use the concepts of purpose, audience, and genre in their writing and to develop critical skills through analysis of good expository writing. Students write four essays: summary/response, explanation, evaluation, and problem/solution.

ENG 1304: Thinking, Writing, and Research 

This course requires students to utilize argumentative writing to craft a researched position paper. Students evaluate, incorporate, and engage with primary and secondary sources in their writing while learning effective rhetorical techniques regarding organization, purpose, and audience.

ENG 2301: British Literature 

British literature, from Beowulf to the present. Coverage of major literary and historical movements, focusing on the novel and poetry. Assignments include four short papers that require students to practice literary analysis, a poetry recitation, and midterm and final exams.

ENG 2304: American Literature

American literature, from John Winthrop to Cormac McCarthy. Coverage of major literary and historical movements and several genres, including nonfiction, sermons, letters, poetry, novels, and short stories. Assignments include four short papers that require students to practice literary analysis, a poetry recitation, and midterm and final exams.

LDS 2301: Vocation Specific Leadership

This course emphasizes several historical and contemporary perspectives on vocation to help students think about influencing the world through a unique vocation or calling. Assignments include interviews, lecture reflections, a belief statement video and essay, and a group presentation.

BIC 2334: World Cultures III: The Modern World

An interdisciplinary approach to the narrative of human culture through philosophy, religion, art, literature, music, and social science. Coverage of the scientific revolution through the twentieth century, beginning with Fontenelle and concluding with Primo Levi. Assignments include exams, papers that analyze primary texts and utilize secondary sources, participation in cultural events, and a field trip.

HON 3200: Honors Colloquium

The colloquium meets once per semester to discuss a book I select, and then students write short essays. Texts taught: Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!, selected short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette, Henry David Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, the poetry of Phillis Wheatley and N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain.


  • Dr. Griffis has a passion for literature and it shows in her teaching style. She is friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable in the subject. She is well prepared for each class. Her insights and her use of well thought out, prepared questions stimulate discussion in the classroom and consideration of multiple viewpoints.
  • Professor Griffis has helped beyond the point I thought I could be helped. Taking her course has inspired me. I am even going to change my major/minor. A life changing course that I beyond enjoyed. Everyone in the class was active and participated in discussion because of how well everything was organized and can even be considered fun. A great experience, thankful for her!
  • I really love how the instructor brings in cultural issues into class discussions. Instead of just talking about the past and the time that these writings were created in, we talk about how we can learn from it today and apply it to things happening in our world today.