(David) Todd Lawrence  portrait

(David) Todd Lawrence

Associate Professor of English
Degree
Ph.D., University of Missouri
M.A., Creighton University
B.A., Rockhurst University
At St. Thomas since 2003
Office
JRC 340
Hours
(Spring 2016) M 1:30-2:30pm; W 4:00-6:00pm; also by appointment
Phone
(651) 962-5625

I teach African American literature and culture, folklore studies, and American cultural studies. My research and teaching areas include: The Black Arts Movement, African American outlaw culture, Afrofuturism, folklore studies, memorialization and public space, and disaster studies. I am currently working on a project in collaboration with the displaced residents of Pinhook, MO, a town destroyed when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intentionally breached the Birds Point-New Madrid levee in southeast Missouri during the Heartland Flood of 2011. This work focuses on African American narratives of disaster and resilience.

Spring 2016 Courses

Spring 2016 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location
ENGL 203 - W07 Crossing the Color Line M - W - F - - 1215 - 1320 JRC 222
CRN: 21907 4 Credit Hours Instructor: David T. Lawrence Race is a paradox. Biologists and anthropologists explain that it doesn't actually exist, and yet we see it every day. But what happens when we can't see race? This course will explore the vagaries of the color line--specifically, what happens to those who dare to cross over from black to white or "pass." We will read various representations of black-to-white passing written by both black and white authors with an eye toward the ways that the absence of racial visibility troubles the very notion of race itself. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing. This course satisfies the Writing Across the Curriculum Writing Intensive requirement.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)
GENG 672 - 01 Ethnographic Writing - - W - - - - 1800 - 2100 JRC 481
CRN: 21886 3 Credit Hours Instructor: David T. Lawrence In this course we will investigate the difficulties, complexities, limits, and impossibilities of ethnography, exploring questions such as: What are the limits of representation? Is objectivity possible? What are the ethical responsibilities of writing about others? How do we do ethnography without exploiting research “subjects”? Is it possible to do ethnography without exploiting? Should ethnography be done at all? In pursuing these questions we will engage ethnographic theory of the last forty years from the disciplines of anthropology and folklore, focusing on the ethical turn that precipitated a more self-aware, reflexive, and reciprocal ethnography. Theorists will include: James Clifford, George Marcus, Ruth Behar, Deborah Gordon, Clifford Geertz, Kamala Visweswaran, Elaine Lawless, and Talal Asad among others. We will also sample ethnographies of the 20th century – from Malinowski to Alice Goffman – paying close attention as well to experimental fiction, non-fiction, and filmed works by Zora Neale Hurston, Karen McCarthy Brown, Emmanuel Guibert, Maya Deren and others – ultimately posing the questions: what counts as ethnography, and what are the possibilities for it? This course will include an ethnographic writing project. This course satisfies the Multicultural Literature requirement and counts as a 600-level course.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)

Summer 2016 Courses

Summer 2016 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location

Fall 2016 Courses

Fall 2016 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location
ACST 200 - 01 Intro to Amer. Culture & Diff. M - W - - - - 1335 - 1510 JRC 126
CRN: 41371 4 Credit Hours Instructor: David T. Lawrence In ACST 200, students learn about the historical and theoretical foundations of Cultural Studies as an academic discipline and use cultural theory to analyze a variety of cultural products and representations. In this course, students look specifically at dominant and subversive constructions of gender, race, ethnicity, national and sexual identities, and how these constructions are deployed through cultural practices and productions such as sports, film and television, folklore and popular culture, youth subcultures, music, and so on. For example, the course may contain units on "nation" and the creation of American mythologies; the process of hero-making in American history; stereotypes and the representation of race and ethnicity in television and film; representations of gender and sexuality in advertising; as well as a section on American music from jazz, blues, folk and roots music, to rock and roll, punk, and hip-hop. This course fulfills the Human Diversity requirement in the core curriculum.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)
ENGL 203 - W41 HONORS:Your Utopia/My Dystopia M - W - F - - 1055 - 1200 OEC 305
CRN: 42445 4 Credit Hours Instructor: David T. Lawrence What's your idea of a perfect world? How would it be different from your friends' ideas? Some of our greatest stories have taken up our dreams of utopia and imagined the way competing needs and desires distort those dreams, producing a dystopian reality. In this class, we will discuss literary and cinematic work that revolves around notions of power and the way societies get shaped to privilege power even when the goal is to create a living situation that is equitable to everyone. Sometimes dystopias result from attempts to hoard power; sometimes they result from efforts to create utopias. Is it possible that utopias are never as good as intended? Maybe, as Thomas More¹s UTOPIA suggests, they don't really exist at all except as ideals in the mind of people with power. Possible texts include THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins; BATTLE ROYALE: THE NOVEL by Koushon Takami; NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro; V FOR VENDETTA by Alan Moore and David Lloyd; THE WATER KNIFE by Paolo Bacigalupi; PARABLE OF THE SOWER by Octavia Butler; HUM by Jamaal May; and the films BLADE RUNNER and V FOR VENDETTA. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing. This course satisfies the Writing Across the Curriculum Writing Intensive requirement. Please note that this section is reserved for students in the Aquinas Scholars honors program.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)
ENGL 337 - L01 Afrofuturism M - W - F - - 1215 - 1320 OEC 305
CRN: 41527 4 Credit Hours Instructor: David T. Lawrence Watch enough science fiction movies and you’ll notice a curious thing: there aren’t many black folks in the future imagined by white people. White conceptions of the future tend to figure blackness as either absent or as symbolic of civilization’s failure. Consequently, black diasporic people have had no place to imagine themselves but the present; it would appear that both the speculative future and the historical past are the exclusive domains of whiteness. As comedian Louis C K has commented, “Black people can’t f*** with time machines.” The emergent literary and cultural aesthetic Afrofuturism, however, offers a challenge to this conclusion. Focusing on the intersection between race and technology, Afrofuturism explores alternative futures imagined by black diasporic artists, it re-visions culture and blackness in present and future moments, and it allows us to revisit history with an eye toward alternate explanations of past conditions. Ultimately, Afrofuturism combines art, imagination, technology, theory, and Afrocentrism to conceive and render, through various mediums, multiple alternatives to a past, present, and future imposed on diasporic peoples by a restrictive white imagination. In this class we will embark on a literary journey forward and backward through time looking for ways that re-imaginings of black existence can allow us to reconsider the nature of blackness itself. Artists will include Nalo Hopkinson, W.E.B. DuBois, Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, Sun Ra, and Janelle Monae. This course satisfies the core Human Diversity requirement and the Diversity Literature distribution requirement for English majors. Prerequisites: ENGL 201, 202, 203, or 204

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)