Sarah Cash, BM, MA
Professional Biography

I amSarah Bio picture a PhD. candidate in English at The University of Miami, and will defend my dissertation, (In)harmonic Resonance: Music and Temporality in Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century, in May, 2018.  I also have a BM from Palm Beach Atlantic University and an MA from Florida International University.

My article, “‘Fled is that music,’: Feminized Musical Sound Spaces in the Poetry of John Keats,” is currently under review for publication.

My teaching interests focus on writing-centered instruction, and I aim to help students develop their own arguments across disciplines and to prepare them to enter larger conversations about writing and reading. I began my career teaching at Florida International University where I worked with students with diverse backgrounds, educational experiences, and goals, including first-generation college and ELL (English Language Learner) students. This experience has taught me the effectiveness of a revision process that comes from open communication between instructor and student, and I emphasize writing as process in all my writing-intensive classes. Following Peter Elbow’s advice on feedback in my courses, I use a combination of written and voice (recorded) comments, as well as one-on-one conferences to create an ongoing dialogue with each student about their writing. I also use directed peer reviews and in-class workshops during the semester to improve argument, evidence and support, and other rhetorical, global, and local concerns.

Both in my feedback and in our work in the classroom, my goal is to help students focus on their writing process by initiating them into a conversation with me and the entire class about writing. I have found, as Richard Straub suggests, that by connecting my comments back to the student’s own language, I can help them strengthen their analysis, argument, and overall writing skills while allowing them to retain control of their own work. In each of my writing-intensive classes, the students engage in workshops to continue their writing discourse. Each student is responsible for submitting a draft of their essay on a pre-arranged date. The students and I annotate the drafts before class and discuss each draft in detail during the class session. Through these workshops, students discuss, defend, and strengthen their arguments while working on clarity and structure. In my experience, engaging students in a semester-long conversation about writing through paper comments, peer reviews, workshops, and conferences bolsters their confidence and produces effective writing practices. Through this process, the students not only develop a dialogue and language to talk about writing as an ongoing conversation; they feel authorized and empowered to learn from and teach each other.

My dissertation and research interests have helped me develop an inquiry-based teaching style that helps students use  their own research and arguments to ask difficult questions about texts and their relationship to lived experience.  My own current project examines the way nineteenth-century authors use music in their work to disrupt and re-imagine social, temporal expectations and hierarchies. These authors use embedded, textual music or the sonic as a fluid metaphor for subversive possibilities not readily apparent in the work itself. By textual music I mean music that does not literally sound in text, but instead can be figuratively “heard” by both the characters and the reader through an understanding of sound. Through an examination of the way different nineteenth-century writers position the sonic in text, I posit that music confounds its own seemingly measured structure through the nature and movement of sound. Thus, music can operate in written text as a non-linear and non-cyclical temporal sound space, revealing cracks or ruptures in dominant social constructions while confounding enlightenment binaries, specifically hierarchies built around feminine, exotic and “othered” music.

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