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Dr. Lydia K. Kualapai

Lydia Kualapai Professor of English
Fulbright Scholar
Chair, English & World Languages

  • Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • M.A., University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • B.A., University of Hawai'i-Hilo
  • "Cast in Print: The Nineteenth-Century Hawaiian Imaginary." An analysis of the discursive construction of Native Hawaiians in the nineteenth-century U.S. cultural imagination
  • American Literature, Ethnic Studies, Critical Theory, and Postcolonial Fiction
  • American literature, African American literature and art, Ethnic Literature, Pacific literature, critical theory, and composition and rhetoric

My teaching philosophy and methodology have, in large part, been shaped by my graduate research and life experiences. Investigating the intersections of race, culture, and colonialism has prepared me for multicultural teaching and, in some unexpected ways, transformed my instructional strategies and classroom dynamics.

Above all, I prioritize ethnic writers in my literature classes, not to enlighten students on "other" cultures, but to invite students to investigate their own reading practices and critical biases. To enable that investigation, I stress the importance of identifying each text's frame of production, locating ourselves as readers within the frame, and filtering the text through our personal locations. As a result, my approach to African American literature, for example, has evolved into an interdisciplinary project, incorporating art, music, film, and community speakers. My literature students routinely collaborate in their research and research presentations, engage in critical peer deliberation, synthesize course materials through their personal experiences and knowledge, and, in the process, teach me through their lives what I cannot learn elsewhere.

My research has also influenced my approach to teaching composition. My first-year and advanced writing courses, for instance, center on the rhetoric of diversity and tolerance in the community dialog, with "community" defined in transitory terms most useful to the students. In terms of composition methodology, I incorporate critical thinking and contemporary social issues with open discussion, revision-based writing, peer review, and applied editing skills. In practical terms, my composition classes are typically lively and engaged, with full-class discussion, research analysis, small-group writing workshops, and partner-based editing sessions carrying us through the semester.

The capstone of my teaching philosophy is my belief that academic success is largely a reflection of how productively one interacts with the world at large. As a result, I am committed to the college classroom as an ideal place to learn and practice productive social interaction.