Profile for Thomas Jesse

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Thomas Jesse

Associate Professor
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Specialty area(s)

20 & 21c American Literature, Secondary English Education, Poetry and Poetics, Rhetorical Approaches to Literature

Brief biography

Dr. Tom Jesse is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse whose research areas include 20th/21st c. American poetry, modern rhetorical theory, and critical pedagogy in English Language Arts classrooms (grades 6-12).

His scholarly writing has previously appeared in KB Journal (2013), Beyond the Blockbusters: Themes and Trends in Contemporary Young Adult Literature (U of Mississippi, 2020), and Pacific Coast Philology (2021). His essay on teaching the poetry of 9/11 will appear in the forthcoming collection, Teaching 9/11 and its Aftermaths (MLA "Options for Teaching" Series), and he is currently at work on a scholarly monograph focusing on some of the lesser-known works from American poet John Ashbery's lengthy career. Dr. Jesse has also presented research at regional and national conferences in multiple disciplines — including NeMLA, PAMLA, and ALA (literature), RSA and the Kenneth Burke Society (rhetoric), and NCTE (education).

In addition to general education classes in first-year writing and American literature, he regularly teaches upper-level courses in early American literature, young adult literature, and secondary English methods. He also supervises student teachers throughout the greater La Crosse area each semester.

Current courses at UWL

*** PLEASE NOTE: I am on research sabbatical for the entire 2021-22 academic year and will not be teaching again until Summer 2022 at the earliest. ***


Ph.D., Texas Christian University (2015)
Dissertation: "Rhetorcizing the Avant-Garde: The Illegible as Argument"

M.A., University of Central Florida (2005)
Secondary English Language Arts

B.A., University of Miami, FL (2003)
English and Philosophy


Teaching history

ENG 110: College Writing I
ENG 112: College Writing AP
ENG 200: Literature and Human Experience ("Bestsellers in American Literature")
ENG 201: American Literature I
ENG 202: American Literature II
ENG 200 / ENG 210 / ERS 210: Literature of Black America
ENG 301: Foundations of Literary Studies
ENG 341: Pedagogical Approaches to Adolescent Literature
ENG 370: Early American Literature
ENG 380: Literature of American Ethnic and Minority Cultures
ENG 405: Teaching and Learning English in the Secondary School
ENG 470: Seminar in American Literature ("Poetry and/as Politics")
EDS 492: Student Teaching Seminar

Professional history

Associate Professor of English, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (2021-Present)
Assistant Professor of English, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (2015-21)
Doctoral Teaching Fellow, Texas Christian University (2014-15)
Graduate Instructor, Texas Christian University (2011-14)
High School English Teacher, Seminole County Public Schools (2005-10)

Research and publishing


"John Ashbery's Unexceptional Politics" -- LINK
Pacific Coast Philology (Vol. 55, No. 2, 2021)

"Manufacturing Manhood: Young Adult Fiction and Masculinity(ies) in the 21st Century"
Chapter in Beyond the Blockbusters: Themes and Trends in Young Adult Literature (2020, University Press of Mississippi) -- LINK
[Co-authored with Dr. Heidi Jones]

Review of Bryan Crable's Ralph Ellison and Kennth Burke (KB Jounal, Fall 2013) -- LINK
[Co-authored with Dr. Tyler Branson, Dr. Sharon Harris, and Dr. Joel Overall]


"Humor as 'Unexceptional Politics' in John Ashbery's The Tennis Court Oath" (2019 PAMLA Conference in San Diego, CA)

“Raising (Critical) Voices: Preparing Teachers for Critical Pedagogies in the ELA Classroom” (2018 NCTE Conference in Houston, TX)

“Tell It Slant: Dickinson, Wittgenstein, and the Poetics of Truth” (2018 PAMLA Conference in Bellingham, WA)

"Voices of Advocacy in Imaginary Worlds: Teaching Speculative Fiction with Critical Literacy, Feminist, and Queer Theory Perspectives" (2016 NCTE Conference in Atlanta, GA)

"Curating Capitalism: Walter Benjamin, Kenneth Goldsmith, and the 21st Century Archive" (2016 PAMLA Conference in Pasadena, CA)

"Pedagogies of Poetry: The Transformational Rhetorics of Lyn Hejinian and Susanne Langer" (2016 Rhetoric Society of America Conference in Atlanta, GA)