Jenny Spinner, Ph.D.
- B.A., Millikin University, 1992
- M.F.A., Penn State University, 1995
- M.A., University of Connecticut, 1999
- Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 2004
The essay/creative nonfiction
Ethics and writing
I believe that students best learn to write in a classroom setting by forgetting that classroom setting. Certainly, the classroom community is relevant, but I urge my students to think beyond the classroom, to think of the skills they learn as transferable, that is, applicable in any writing situation they encounter, both inside the university and (especially) beyond. Ultimately, I want my students to understand that every act of writing—whether a poem, a news story, a tweet, a research paper, a biology lab report, a design project description, or a personal essay—inhabits a different set of rhetorical circumstances, some inherent, some invented. Moreover, every act of writing carries responsibility with consequences outside the experience of composing.
I also emphasize critical reading and thinking in my courses. Good writers are good thinkers, and good thinkers are people who read widely and are engaged in the world. For me, that means not only being tapped into what is going on in the world but also tapped into the technology that makes the world so much more accessible to us.
Director of The Writing Center
Member of National Council of Teachers of English, Associated Writing Programs, Jesuit Council on Rhetoric and Composition, Jesuit College Media Advisors, Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS), and Phi Beta Kappa
Follow Dr. Spinner on Twitter (@essaydoctor)
- Craft of Language—English 1011
- Texts and Contexts—English 1021
- Mobile Journalism—English 150 (FY Seminar)
- Narrative Journalism—English 462
- Feature Story in Journalism—English 1541/2061
- Intro to Journalism—English 2041
- The Art of Editing—English 2171/Communications 2055
- Literary Journalism—English 2271
- Journalism Practicum—English 2981
- Literary Journalism—English 4495 (graduate)
- Ethics in Communication—Communications 2011
- Literary Nonfiction Shorts—English 443
- Writing Fellows, Theory & Practice—English 2131
- Nonfiction Workshop—English 2231
- Seminar in the Ethics of Writing—English 2901
- Niche Writing—Communications 2145
- Creative Nonfiction Workshop—English 668 (graduate)
- The “E”-Word: Reading, Writing & Teaching the Essay—English 4285 (graduate)
- The Essay: Women Essayists from the 17th Century to the Present—English 4285 (graduate)
Independent Studies & Theses
- Public Relations—Communications 2065
- Independent Study—English 2951
- Independent Study: Internship Program—English 2961
- Honors Thesis—English 2963
- Graduate Thesis—English 4605 (graduate)
Tell Them I Didn’t Cry. With Jackie Spinner. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.
Selected Creative Publications
“Spoiled Love.” Brevity 33 (Summer 2010): n.p. Web.
“Leaving Home.” Stepping on My Brother’s Head and Other Secrets Your English Professor Never Told You. Ed. Sondra Perl and Charles Schuster. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2010. 47-54.
“Together in the Old Square Print, 1976.” The Essay Connection. Ed. Lynn Z. Bloom. 8th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. 333-4.
“Block Island, 1998.” Mid-American Review. 24.1 (2003): 128-9.
“My Father’s Dead (If Only I Could Tell You).” Fourth Genre. Fall 2002: 135-43.
“In Medias Rest.” Touchstone Spring 2001: 78-82.
“In Search of a Past.” The Essay Connection. Ed. Lynn Z. Bloom. 6th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. 573-80.
Selected Journalism Publications
“On the Far Side of the World, Watching Her Sister’s Back.” The Washington Post 26 Jan. 2006: C1+.
“Coming Home Can Be Hard.” Decatur Herald & Review 6 Dec. 2005: D4
“A Journalist’s Sister.” All Things Considered. NPR. 6 Dec. 2004.
“Women Rule.” Newsday. 25 April 2004.
“First Christmas.” All Things Considered. NPR. 24 Dec. 2001.
“Architecture is an Act of Optimism.” All Things Considered. NPR. 8 Nov. 2001.
“Sometimes Words Aren’t Necessary.” Decatur Herald & Review 9 Oct. 2001: C2.
“When ‘Macaroni and Cheese is Good’ (Enough): Revelation in Creative Nonfiction.” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 4.2 (2004): 316-22.
“Toward a Personal Ethics of Telling.” Writing on the Edge Fall/Winter 2001: 31-4.
“A Response to ‘Lookin’ for Fame at the 4Cs Convention.” Writing on the Edge Spring 2007: 61-5.
“The American Essay.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. Ed. Jay Parini. New York: Oxford UP, 2004.
“Sample Syllabus and Classroom Strategies for Stepping on My Brother’s Head and Other Secrets Your English Professor Never Told You.” Heinemann. Heinemann, 2010. Web.
Analysis of “Leaving Home.” Instructor’s Manual for Stepping on My Brother’s Head and Other Secrets Your English Professor Never Told You.” Eds. Sondra Perl and Charles Schuster. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2010. 35-37.
“Research and Creative Nonfiction.” Instructor Resources for Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction. By Sondra Perl & Mimi Schwartz. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Web.
“The Craft of Revision.” Instructor Resources for Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction. By Sondra Perl & Mimi Schwartz. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Web.
“Pulling a Poem Out of a Hat.” 2003 Creative Writing/Creative Teaching: Pedagogy Forum Handbook. Associated Writing Programs, 2003. n.p.
“Fiction or Nonfiction? Pushing Against Genre Boundaries.” 2002 Creative Writing/Creative Teaching: Pedagogy Forum Handbook. Associated Writing Programs, 2002. n.p.
“Poetry and the Little Magazines.” 2002 Creative Writing/Creative Teaching: Pedagogy Forum Handbook. Associated Writing Programs, 2002. n.p.
Selected National Conference Presentations
“‘Can’t We All Just Get Along?’ Civil Discourse on the Web and in the Classroom.” CCCC. Atlanta, GA. April 2011.
“The Lyric Essay: Reading, Writing, and Teaching ‘The Beautiful Wild Child’ of Creative Nonfiction.” Creative Nonfiction Special Interest Group. CCCC. Atlanta, GA. April 2011.
“Social Media Discourse as a Classroom Conversation Starter.” Writing Program Administrators Conference. Philadelphia, PA. July 2010.
“The Right Mix—Assignment Sequences in CNF Workshops and Composition Classrooms.” Creative Nonfiction Special Interest Group. CCCC. Louisville, KY. March 2010.
“Live Wires—Creative Nonfiction and Technology.” Creative Nonfiction Special Interest Group. CCCC. San Francisco, CA. March 2009.
“(On) Riffing on the Modern Essay.” Pedagogy Forum. AWP Conference. New York, NY. Feb. 2008.
“Nineteenth Century Newspaper Writers—Women Essayists You’ve (Likely) Never Read.” AWP Conference. New York, NY. Feb. 2008.
“Failure and Betrayal: Accountability in Creative Nonfiction.” CCCC. New Orleans, LA. April 2008.
“Meta-Writing—When Essays and Lives Collide.” Creative Nonfiction Special Interest Group. CCCC. New Orleans, LA. April 2008.
“Evaluating Creative Nonfiction.” Creative Nonfiction Special Interest Group. CCCC. New York, NY. March 2007.
“Shouts and Murmurs from the Margins: A History of Women Essayists.” CCCC. Chicago, IL. March 2006.
“Researching the Personal Essay.” Creative Nonfiction Special Interest Group. CCCC. Chicago, IL. March 2006.
“Essais of One’s Own: Writing Toward a Tradition.” AWP Conference. Austin, TX. March 2006.
Grants and Awards
- Faculty Merit Service Award, Saint Joseph’s University, Fall 2009
- Scholarship, Knight Foundation/Journalism and Women Symposium, Summer 2010
- Fellow, Multimedia Journalism for College Educators seminar, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Summer 2010
- Faculty Merit Teaching Award, Saint Joseph’s University, Fall 2008
- Faculty Research Grant, Saint Joseph’s University, Summer 2007
- Ethics Across the Curriculum Fellow, Saint Joseph’s University, Summer 2006
- The Best American Essays Notable Essay for “(My Father’s Dead) If Only I Could Tell You,” The Best American Essays, 2003
Mentioned in SJU News