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Featured Faculty: Dr. Ashley Rattner

Dr. Ashley Rattner, one of the English Department’s newest faculty, is an Assistant Professor of English. Originally from Pearl River, New York, Rattner earned an AA&S from John Tyler Community College, a BA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University, an MA in English from the University of Memphis, and a PhD in Literacy and Cultural Studies from the University of Memphis.

What brought you to JSU?

I attended state schools throughout my academic career, and my goal was ultimately to return to teach at one. I was attracted to how vibrant the English Department was in particular and the way they embrace change to constantly grow and improve.

What is your area of expertise in English?

Early and 19th-Century American Literature

What courses are you currently teaching at JSU?

 Composition I and American Literature I

What are you most looking forward to? 

This semester, I’m teaching Comp 1 and American Literature to 1865! I’m excited to teach courses on American utopias and early American print culture in the future.

What is (currently) your favorite part of your job? 

My colleagues and my students

What is your favorite thing about the English Department? 

Since I moved to Alabama this summer, my colleagues in the English Department have been so kind, welcoming, and supportive! I really appreciate the cohort I came in with, too (Drs. Tigner, Billingsley, and Reiff).

What impact do you hope to have while teaching at JSU?  

I hope to help students advocate for themselves by learning how to tailor their communication to match different situations. In all my classes, I train students to think critically and develop analytical habits in the literature and composition classrooms and beyond.

Do you have any ongoing projects or academic activities you’d like to share? 

I study utopian experiments and the ways they represent themselves to the public in print! My current book project is tentatively titled The Crass Materiality of Utopia: Publishing Communitarian Reform in Nineteenth-Century America. I’m finishing up a forum on P.T. Barnum’s American Museum as well, and I presented part of this project at the Faculty Research Symposium in early November. I currently co-chair the podcast for C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, a role in which we produce podcast episodes showcasing recent scholarship from contributors in English, history, and cultural studies.

Do you have any notable achievements you wish to share? 

I was 4-H Lleaping Llama Club president as a youth.

What do you do in your spare time? 

In no particular order: photography, hiking, trash television. I’m new to the area, so I enjoy exploring as well!

What advice would you give to a student of yours? 

Communicate with your professors! We want you to succeed and often don’t know what we can do to make your life easier unless you tell us.

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