English Faculty Specialties

English Department Full-Time Faculty

Kendra Birnley

Kendra has been at Clark College since 2009 and came by way of the University of Arizona (B.A.) and Northern Arizona University, where she received her M.A. in English and taught for a while after graduating. She also holds her M.Ed. from Portland State University. Kendra’s teaching experience spans pre-college to college-level research and composition and also includes a number of American and world literature courses. Her most passionate literary interests are multicultural and women’s literature, and she’s had the privilege of teaching Women’s Studies here at Clark as well. As an instructor, Kendra is excited by new challenges, such as teaching in online and hybrid formats, and in learning communities, like the integrated English 102 and Women’s Studies 101 course that she developed and co-teaches with a member of the Women’s Studies department.


Dr. Lindsay Christopher

Lindsay has been happily teaching at Clark since 2012. She previously taught at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado and at the University of Denver, where she earned her Ph.D. in Literary Studies and developed proficiencies in climbing 14,000 foot mountains and descending the powdery slopes of the Rockies. Her teaching interests include multiethnic American literature, Native American literature, and research writing. She loves learning from her students’ diverse experiences and journeying with them as they develop new ideas, perspectives, and ways of being.


Jill Darley-Vanis

Jill has been teaching at Clark since 2000. She holds a B.A. in French and a B.A. in English from Oregon State University; she also spent one year abroad at the Université de Poitiers in France, where she studied in the Faculté de Langues et Lettres. Her M.A. comes from Portland State University, where her areas of focus were 18th and 19th century British literature and critical theory. Last, she returned to Portland State during her sabbatical, resuming her work in composition theory.
Her research, conference presentations, and publication work are in assignment design, transfer theory, and thinking about learning with a holistic view of the student. She has been published in TETYC and has presented for the First-Year Experience (FYE) conference, for TYCA, and for the state’s ATL conference on numerous occasions. She also serves as an AHE senator and as the English Department’s Adjunct Coordinator.


Dr. Marylynne Diggs

Marylynne is originally from the Washington D.C. suburbs of Maryland but has called Oregon home since 1986. She began her education at the University of Alabama as an Interior Design major, but soon changed to Criminal Justice and Sociology with a minor in English. After her receiving her B.A., she moved to Eugene, Oregon, where she earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in English at the University of Oregon, specializing in Rhetoric, American literature, and Queer Studies. She has been teaching English and Humanities since 1987, and began her career at Clark College in 1998. In addition to teaching ENGL 098 and ENGL 102, Marylynne also teaches American Lit, Queer Lit, LGBTQ Studies, and Nature and the Humanities. Marylynne likes to relax and play too; she is an avid hiker and nature photographer as well as a huge fan of football, basketball, and tennis.


Elizabeth Donley

A Chicago native, Elizabeth holds a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Italian from DePaul University and an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Chapman University. She started her teaching career in rural New Mexico as a middle school teacher and has also taught at the middle school and college levels in California. In 2013, she taught Italian literature and writing in the WCCCSA foreign study program in Florence, Italy. At Clark, Elizabeth teaches all levels of composition, Intro and Advanced Fiction Writing, American Literature, and the "Phoenix" course (English 277). She also has taught in the online and hybrid modalities for over ten years and has focused her academic research on engaging the online learner.  
Elizabeth's short fiction has appeared in ZYZZYVARiverSedge, Pamona Valley Review, and elsewhere. She also has been the recipient of an Oregon Literary Fellowship in fiction, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant for fiction, and a Caldera Residency. Since 2013, she has been the literary advisor to Phoenix, Clark’s award-winning art and literary journal. Currently, she serves as the English Division Chair and has the perpetual hope that one day the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series.


Melissa Favara

Melissa holds a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis from Western Michigan University and an M.A. in English Literature from The Pennsylvania State University, where she studied Victorian and Modernist literature with a critical focus on Queer Theory. She is currently focusing on developing and teaching learning communities, integrating English Composition with subjects including Geography, Biology, and Psychology. She also loves teaching Detective Fiction, Creative Writing, and American and British Literature.

Off campus, Melissa writes creative nonfiction, curates the 1,000 Words reading series, dabbles in letterpress, and collects manual typewriters. She is also a board member at the Independent Publishing Resource Center and is always on the lookout for opportunities to promote reading, writing, and the literary artifact of the printed word.


James Finley

James earned a B.A. in English from Washington State University in 1986, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon in 1988, and an M.A. in English from Eastern Washington University in 1995. From 1989 to 1997 he lived in his hometown of Spokane where he taught at Gonzaga University, Spokane Community College, and EWU. After teaching in Chicago for three years at Columbia College and DePaul University, he moved to Portland in 2000 and began working at Clark. He teaches composition and literature (especially British Literature and Shakespeare) and has been a director and co-director of Clark’s Columbia Writers Series for over ten years. He enjoys writing poetry and fiction, playing guitar in a bluegrass band, oil painting, fishing, and reading and writing about Pacific Northwest history.


Dr. Ray Korpi

Ray has been teaching English at Clark since 1993.  He has B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Washington State University-Pullman.  Dr. Korpi teaches all levels of composition, especially focusing on English 102.  He has been engaged with teaching composition with computers since his start as a teacher in 1988, and teaches a diverse selection of literature classes reflecting his multifaceted background.  Dr. Korpi has also been actively involved in the learning communities activities at Clark as well as participating in the common read program.  He served as a dean from 2003 to 2013.  His current research interests are dealing with the changes in birding culture that deal with changes in technology and environmental issues.


Alexis Nelson

Alexis’s teaching career began in Rouen, France: a small medieval city where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, Gustave Flaubert set his famous novel Madame Bovary, and Alexis tried to help a bunch of French teenagers learn the English language. At Clark, where she was worked since 2010, Alexis teaches all levels of composition as well as American Literature and Introduction to Creative Nonfiction Writing, a course she created. She also helps run the Columbia Writers Series, which brings nationally-recognized authors to campus, and Subtext, a week-long literary festival that takes places each spring. Alexis holds a B.A. in English from UC Santa Barbara and an M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Portland State University. Her articles and essays have appeared in various publications including The LA Review of BooksThe Normal School, and Tin House. Born and raised in San Francisco, she now lives in Portland with her husband and her little brown dog.


Tobias Peterson

Tobias earned Bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. He then went on to receive a Master’s degree in English Literature from George Mason University and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Poetry from Texas State University. He teaches technical and creative writing, as well as a learning community: The Craft of Comics. He’s the former sports editor for the online magazine Popmatters and his poetic work can be found in the Gulf Coast Review, Analecta, and elsewhere.


Dr. Heidi Rich

After a series of crummy jobs, Heidi decided to attend college. She started at Los Angeles City College, the location for the show Community. Then she majored in aviation at Mount Hood Community College and earned her pilot’s license. She earned B.A.s in English and International Affairs at Lewis and Clark College, an M.A. in English from the University of Iowa, and a doctorate in English from the University of Washington. She has completed postdoctoral studies in filmmaking and theory at the Northwest Film Center and Portland State University. Recent projects include a documentary on a phenomenal dancer and cancer survivor; a documentary on White Wolf Sanctuary, a haven for abused and endangered animals; a documentary on Heceta Head Lighthouse; and an experimental film on Mount Angel Abbey’s stations of the cross and Yacolt, Washington’s bus shelters. Dr. Rich has sixteen-year-old and fifteen-week-old Aussies named Frankie and Lucy and a seven-year-old Sheltie named Dottie. After a series of crummy jobs, Dottie has decided to attend college.


Gail Robinson

Gail has been teaching English at the college level for nearly twenty-five years and the time has flown by. That must be a sign that she loves what she's doing. Gail finds it deeply rewarding and humbling to witness the journeys of her students and to be part of the process of discovery and success. In addition to teaching, Gail is also a writer, though she struggles to find time for both teaching and her writing life. That's probably why she's still working on writing a memoir 15 years after she started it. She has hope that she'll finish it one of these days! Her other passions are cooking, baking and being outdoors. Whenever Gail spends a weekend at the ocean or the mountain, all is right in her world. Gail earned her Bachelor's Degree in 1984 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She majored in English with minors in Communication and Technical Writing. She then earned her Master's Degree in English in 1992 from Portland State University. Over the years, she has taken several workshops to build her knowledge and skills as a creative writer, with some of her most important teachers being Judith Barrington, Kim Stafford, Jennifer Lauck, and Martha Gies.


Kate Scrivener

Kate Thornton Scrivener grew up looking west in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated from the University of Kansas and jumped off for the Pacific Northwest as a young adult. Kate has worked as an audio engineer, a studio camera operator, a floor director, a cinematographer, a community reporter, an independent publisher, and--after earning an M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition from Portland State University--as an English/Humanities teacher. Her teaching focus is centered upon the imaginative worlds of mythology, the Bible as literature, 18th Century British literature, science fiction, modern world literature, young adult fiction, and popular culture.  After hours, Kate is a 200-level RYT yoga teacher, specializing in the practices of Yogalign and restorative yoga. She is one of the founders of Pureheart Yoga, a small studio located in Southeast Portland.


Dr. Gerard M. Smith

Gerard has been an English professor at Clark College since 1991.  He has a Ph.D. in Creative Option with and emphasis in Rhetoric from Bowling Green State University, an M.A. in American Literature from The University of Toledo, and a B.S. in Education in Journalism from Bowling Green State University.   He served as the Vice President for the Washington State Faculty Association for Community and Technical Colleges (2013-2014) and he is currently the FACTC President. He served as the advisor for the Clark College Native American Student Council, as the Director of the Columbia Writers Series, and as a board member for the Mountain Writers Series.   His teaching interests include research writing, composition, poetry writing, American Literature and Science Fiction and Fantasy. 
His poetry has appeared in several anthologies and journals including Apex of the M, The Adirondack Review, hummingbird, and the Wind River Review.  He was awarded an Ohio Arts grant for an ekphrasitc collaboration with Hispanic artist Adrian Tio entitled Masks of the Gods in 1989, and for The Feathered Serpent, a collaboration with five Hispanic artists in 1990.  The chapbook Hill of a Star—part of the collaboration with artist Adrian Tio—was presented as the Ohio Council for the Arts award in 1991 and the broadside “Melting Glass”—also with Tio—was presented as the Medici Circle Gold Award in 1992. He was a columnist for the online magazine Swans from 2003-2008.


Kimberly Sullivan

Kimberly grew up in rural Mississippi and received her B.A. in English from Belhaven College and her M.A. from Mississippi State University. She continued her graduate studies at the University of Mississippi and Georgia State University. After teaching composition at Mississippi State University and Georgia State University, she eventually moved to Macon, Georgia, and taught at Mercer University. After a trip to the Washington state in 1990,  she decided to move to the northwest where she
felt a strong affinity with the area and the people.
Kimberly has been teaching at Clark College since 1991. Her teaching interests are composition, technical writing and world literature. Outside of academia, her passions are animal rescue and land use issues. She works with a local non-profit animal rescue organization and serves on her local planning commission.


Nancy Thompson

Nancy earned an M.F.A. in non-fiction writing from Goddard College after earning an M.A. in Social and Intellectual History from University at Albany, having discovered she loved the writing as much as the researching.  She has published one collection of poetry with Cherry Grove Press, Killing the Buddha, and has been published in national and international newspapers and literary journals. She frequently studies, researches, and writes about religion.


Cydney Topping

Cydney is a native of North Portland and began teaching at Clark in 2015. She studied English/Literature at Eastern Oregon University and earned an M.A. in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University in Chicago. Prior to Clark, she taught English for the City Colleges of Chicago for many years.


Jim Wilkins-Luton

Jim has been a faculty member at Clark College since 2000. Jim taught English in Kanazawa and Sendai, Japan for seven years before coming to Clark. He holds a B.A. in English from Whitworth University and a M.A. in English from Gonzaga. His hobbies and interests include grilling, hiking, biking, martial arts, and spending time with his family, which includes four dogs, three cats, and a lop-eared bunny named Butterscotch. Jim has what his daughter describes as an “unnatural talent” for board games and is willing to defend this distinction at Catan, Carcassonne, 7 Wonders, Dominion, Ticket to Ride or a game of your choosing at any time. Recent Clark College highlights include being named a recipient of the 2014 Exceptional Faculty Award and serving as Interim Dean of Transitional Studies, English, Communications, and Humanities.  


Sandra Woodward

Sandy has been teaching at Clark College since 1988. Before that, she taught at Portland Community College, City College of San Francisco, Foothill Community College, and St. Louis Community College at Meramec. Her students have blessed her with a long and happy career.  She teaches all levels of composition as well as American Literature. In literature, she especially enjoys creative non-fiction, from the descriptions written by explorers to the exposes of muckrakers or “new journalists” to the scientific and environmental writing of our time. Her second love is journalism—delivering information in accurate, beautiful, compelling ways. She has taken time away from teaching to produce TV news at the ABC affiliate in Kansas City and to chair the English Division at Clark for seven years.  She has an M.A. in English from the University of Kansas and graduate courses in journalism at the University of Missouri. She lives in Portland with her husband Steve. They have two beautiful children and two spectacular grandbabies.


English Department Part-Time Faculty

Scott Barr

Scott Barr teaches American literature, rhetoric/composition, U.S. history, and film studies. He is particularly interested in post-World War II American culture, and in the political legacies and dispositions of the Cold War period. He grew up far, far away on the coast of Maine, but came to Washington to go to school and then basically refused to leave. He earned his B.A. from Evergreen, his M.A. from WWU, and is presently a PhD candidate at the UW. When not doing college-type stuff, he likes to ride and race a variety of bicycles and to snowboard in the Cascades. Presently a Portlander, he’s looking forward to getting back to the north side of the river in the near future. He is very fond of German cars, Austrian motorcycles, the Boston Red Sox, and quality coffee.


Chet Benson

Chet has taught English at Clark off and on since 1987; he has also served as Clark's Journalism instructor and media advisor. He has Master's Degrees in English and Journalism from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre from Pomona College. Chet's teaching interests include research writing, editing, dramatic literature and Shakespeare. He is also a member of the Clark Honors Program Committee.


Dr. Mary Coté 

Mary has taught English composition and literature at universities and colleges in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington for more than 20 years. A native of Oregon, she completed her Ph.D. in English at the University of Oregon, specializing in Middle English language and literature, but these days, she enjoys teaching composition and research writing because they form a crucial foundation for students’ success in college, work, and life. She still gets her daily literature dose, though, from abundant reading.


Ryan Davis

Ryan was born and raised in North Portland, Oregon, and earned a B.S. in English from Western Oregon State College and a Master of Arts in English from Mississippi State University.  He has taught all things English in schools in Washington, Oregon, Mississippi, and Maine, as well as English Conversation and high school English in Sapporo and Tsukuba City, Japan. His professional interests include American and Japanese Literature, art, and culture; creative nonfiction; and nature writing. He is also co-director of Portland World Theatre and a wedding officiant. He lives in Vancouver with his wife, son, and dog, but he can’t convince any of them to love Old School Hip Hop and Classic Country & Western music the way he does.


Karyn-Lynn Fisette

Karyn-Lynn has been teaching writing and literature at several schools in the Pacific Northwest since 2007 and at Clark College since 2011. Her teaching interests are wide-ranging, and include ENGL 097 through ENGL 102, Creative Writing, and World Literature. In addition to teaching, she currently works as a fiction editor and volunteers as a literacy coach in Portland, Oregon. Before earning her M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from Portland State University in 2010, she studied Literature at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island., Philosophy and Political Science at Webster University in Vienna, Austria, and completed graduate work in Education at University College Galway, in Galway, Ireland. Originally from Rhode Island, she is a former journalist and worked as a reporter for several newspapers on the East Coast, and as an editorial assistant for NPR in Boston. She is active in a variety of social justice causes, including literacy and prison reform. She is an avid sailor, and—as anyone who knows her will tell you—takes great pride in having been born and raised on the ocean.


Karen Fitts

Karen Fitts grew up in the Deep South (Louisiana) and did her graduate work at TCU in Ft. Worth, Texas. After a decade of visiting family in Washington and Oregon, she moved here in the summer from just outside Philadelphia (West Chester, Pennsylvania), her home for 15 years. Food tells her story best. She brought with her a deep appreciation for the gumbo and jambalaya of Louisiana and the cheesesteaks, frittatas, and pizzelles so common to the Philly area, but she's glad to get to know more now about the diverse and delicious food of the Northwest.


Michael Guerra

Michael has been teaching at Clark College since 2009. He teaches English composition, literature, and creative writing and holds an M.F.A. in Fiction at Arizona State University. His interest is in the short story, but considers writing in all of its forms as a way of communicating and sharing truths. Just as a fictional story must persuade and entice the reader, an argumentative essay must present clear facts and data in a creative manner. His stories have appeared in numerous publications, and he has received an Oregon Literary Fellowship and is the winner of the Sherwood Anderson First Prize for fiction.


Dawn Marie Knopf

Dawn teaches composition, literature, and poetry at Clark College and Portland State University. She received her Bachelor's degree at University of California Davis and her Master's degree at Columbia University in New York, where she was the editor of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. Her poems and essays have appeared in the Boston Review, Pacific Standard, Bomb, the New Inquiry, and Fence, among others.


Alison Krieger

Alison has worked in the field of higher education since 2008 and brings passion, commitment to learning, and appreciation for every student she meets to her work at Clark. With a background in teaching and academic coaching, she uses a strengths-based approach in the classroom to help students discover their own unique writing voices and learning edges. Alison holds a B.A. in Literature and an M.A. in English with emphases in Rhetoric and Medieval Literature. Raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, she’s called Oregon home since 2000. Outside of work Alison enjoys vegetarian cooking, volunteering, and creative pursuits.


Raul Moreno

Raul has been teaching writing, literature, journalism, and communication for close to a decade. He began teaching composition at Clark College in 2016, and holds master’s degrees from Washington State and Colorado State universities. His doctoral work focuses on contemporary American short prose, and has been recognized by the Western Literature Association. His essays and stories have been published by Quarterly West, The Normal School, and other journals. A former NPR producer and Peace Corps volunteer, Raul enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest in a sea kayak of ridiculous dimensions.

Lynne Nolan

Lynne was born in Seattle, and, after spending time in Arizona, Oklahoma, California, and Texas, moved back to the Pacific Northwest in 1994 and immediately felt at home among the trees.  She lives in Portland with her husband, Mike.  They have two grown daughters, Donna and Caitlin, who also live in Portland.
Lynne received her B.A. in English Literature from Lewis and Clark College and her M.A. in English from Portland State University where she specialized in Renaissance literature (Shakespeare in particular) and literary theory.  She joined Clark's Department of English in 2003 and teaches Writing Fundamentals, English Composition I, English Composition II, Introduction to Literature, Introduction to Poetry, British Literature, and World Literature in the traditional, hybrid, and online formats.  Her classes emphasize sense of purpose, critical thinking and reading, and approach writing as student centered and as a process and means of inquiry.  She encourages students to continually ask “why” on many different levels, and her continual goal is that she can instill in her students at least a tiny love of reading and writing.


Joshua Patrick

Inspired to become an English teacher by his first composition instructor's emphasis on critical thinking and advanced literacy, Joshua tries to spread the same. Since 2008, Joshua has taught reading, writing, and literature classes at Clark College, specializing in pre-college reading and writing. He has a Master's degree in English from Portland State University where he studied Critical and Composition Theory. He enjoys games, animals that do not bite, and music.


Dr. Rosalie Roberts

Rosalie began her teaching career as a student and writing tutor at Shasta Community College in 1997, where she enjoyed supporting people in accomplishing their scholarly and creative goals. Since then, she earned her Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Oregon in 2015 and her M.A. in Women’s Studies from San Diego State University in 2006. Rosalie’s contributions to local and college communities center on building inclusive environments that welcome conversations about how people are different. Her current research seeks to understand the connections between periodical culture, literature, race, queerness, and gender in the diverse cultural regions of late nineteenth-century America. She is always eager to talk about history, literature, writing, bicycling, waterfalls, and arts and crafts projects. Ella habla español con gusto.


Lindsey Schumacher

Lindsey is an aspiring writer and an English and Humanities Instructor. She has been teaching composition courses at Clark College since 2013 and will begin teaching in the University Studies department at Portland State University in spring of 2016. Her interests are writing, art, Victorian literature, science fiction, media studies, rhetoric, philosophy, and fat studies. Lindsey has a B.S. in Philosophy, an M.A. in English, and is completing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, where her focus is on writing for young people. She hopes to write science fiction and fantasy for young adults and teens. She loves to work with students, watch Star Trek, and spend time with her family and pets (though usually not all at the same time).


Dr. Arwen Spicer

Arwen received her Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Oregon in 2005 and has taught composition and literature at several institutions since 1999. Her academic areas of study include literature and environment, science fiction studies, and utopian studies. She has written two science fiction novels, Perdita and The Hour before Morning and has produced an indie film version of The Hour before Morning. She is a big fan of science fiction, anime, and manga.


Sean Wheaton

Sean was born and raised and California but arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 2010 and hasn't looked back since. He received his B.A. in English Literature from UC Santa Barbara and his M.A. in English from CSU East Bay. His academic interests include rhetoric/composition, American literature, and creative writing, and he loves teaching for the continuous opportunities it provides for working with the incredible students at Clark. Outside of teaching, he is an avid reader, writer, climber, and cinephile. He lives in Portland with his wife, Amanda, and their daughter, Elena Bea.