PWR In the Spotlight
Spotlight on: Professor Dennis Clarke
By: Lopa Shah
- When did your teaching career begin, and what prompted you to venture down this path?
Professor Clarke always knew that he wanted to teach English so he began his masters degree in English in Louisiana in 1979. Afterwards, he started to work on a PhD and on his dissertation at SBU; losing interest in his PhD work, Professor Clarke started to write fiction instead. With the background of teaching from his masters degree, Professor Clarke initially taught in English at SBU and after the split between the English and Writing departments in early 90’s, Professor Clarke started to teach writing in the writing department.
- What are some of the writing courses you teach here at SB?
Professor Clarke directed the Writing Center at SBU in mid-80’s to mid-90’s. He moved to California for a few years, then returned. After moving back to New York, he resumed directing the Writing Center. Soon after, Professor Clarke decided he was interested in teaching. As a result Professor Clarke has a taught a variety of courses including movie classes, literary analysis classes, and upper division writing classes. Currently, Professor Clarke teaches primarily WRT 101 and enjoys the daily interaction with his students.
- What is your teaching philosophy and your favorite part of teaching?
Professor Clarke hopes to give students more confidence in their writing and show students that they are better writers than they think they are.
His favorite part of teaching is talking to students and the dynamic relationship he is able to build with them through interacting with them. Professor Clarke explains how he prefers teaching in a classroom over an online class because he enjoys his day in and day out teaching students. During class, Professor Clarke minimizes lecturing while maximizing interaction with students.
- How do you motivate your students to write in the classroom and outside of the classroom?
Professor Clarke encourages students by having individual conferences before major papers are due and calls off class in order to talk one-on-one with his students during conferences. His comments on their papers are able to help students get more confidence in their writing and overall he hopes that this personal interaction motivates his students to write.
- What are your current research interests?
Professor Clarke would like to go back to writing fiction when he has the time.
- How has the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and SBU changed as a whole since your time here? How about the students?
While he was directing the Writing Center, the majority of the students that came were from the local community . However, now Professor Clarke notices the tremendous influx of international students in his classes and the general increase in diversity compared to when he initially began teaching. Some changes in the PWR t itself include how there was less of an emphasis on research writing in the WRT 102 portfolios. Mainly, he has noticed that the composition of the undergraduate body has changed. Professor Clarke has continues to enjoy his time here at SBU and particularly enjoys teaching his WRT 101 course. This shift in the student body population has showed him how much he loves teaching international students because he also gets to learn much more, such as about his students’ home countries and cultures. Professor Clarke notes how SBU has increased its efforts to bring more international students to SB, but comments on how SBU should also continue to find ways to offer greater resources to prepare the students for success.