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Name
Randy Laist, Ph.D.
Title
Professor, English
Department
General Education
Program
General Studies
Phone
860-428-5233
Email
RLaist@goodwin.edu
Office Location
247 Riverside Drive - First Floor
Status
Full-Time
Bio
Hello, my name is Dr. Laist and I am looking forward to getting to know you! I am a lifelong resident of Connecticut, and I received my Ph.D. in English from the University of Connecticut in 2009. I have been teaching English at the college level for more than fifteen years. I love talking with students about their ideas and their writing, and I relish the opportunity that teaching offers to allow me to learn new things about writing, about other people, and about the world around us. I am the author of a book about the American novelist Don DeLillo (Technology and Postmodern Subjectivity in Don DeLillo’s Novels), another book about movies from the 1990s (Cinema of Simulation: Hyperreal Hollywood in the Long 1990s), and another book about representations of the World Trade Center in movies (The Twin Towers in Film: A Cinematic History of New York's World Trade Center), and I’ve edited collections of critical essays on the television show Lost (Looking for Lost: Critical Essays), literary representations of vegetation (Plants and Literature: Essays in Critical Plant Studies), cinematic representations of college (Cinema U: Representations of Higher Education in Popular Film), and Indiana Jones (Excavating Indiana Jones: Essays on the Films and Franchise). I have also written journal articles and book chapters on Herman Melville, Norman Mailer, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as on zombies, YouTube, and movies. Google me to read some of my writing! When I am not writing or teaching, I enjoy running, playing guitar, and eating.
Education
B.A., English and Psychology, University of Connecticut
M.A., English Education, University of Connecticut
M.A., English, University of Connecticut
Ph.D., English, University of Connecticut
Honors / Awards
UDL Teaching Fellow
Areas of Interest / Study / Research
American Literature, Media Studies, Critical Theory
Publications
Books
The Twin Towers in Film: A Cinematic History of New York’s World Trade Center. Jefferson: McFarland, Inc., 2020.
Cinema of Simulation: Hyperreal Hollywood in the Long 1990s. NY: Bloomsbury, 2015. Print.
Technology and Postmodern Subjectivity in Don DeLillo’s Novels. NY: Peter Lang, Inc., 2010. Print.

Edited Books
Excavating Indiana Jones: Essays on the Films and Franchise. Jefferson: McFarland, Inc., 2020.
Cinema U: Representations of Higher Education in Film. London: Fourth Horseman Press. 2018. Print.
Plants and Literature: Essays in Critical Plant Studies. NY: Rodopi Press. 2013. Print.
Looking for Lost: Critical Essays on the Enigmatic Series. Jefferson: McFarland, Inc.,
2011. Print.

Book Chapters
“Technology.” DeLillo in Context. Ed. Jesse Kavadlo. Cambridge University Press. (forthcoming).
“‘The Art, the Artist, the Landscape, the Sky’: Ontological Crossings in Love-Lies-Bleeding.” Don DeLillo after the Millennium: Currents and Currencies. Ed. Jacqueline A. Zubeck. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017. 157-68. Print.
“Hyperreality and the Western Imagination in Prospero’s Books.” Shakespeare on Screen: The Tempest and the Romances. Ed. Sarah Hatchuel and Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. 185-198. Print.
“Sartre’s Chestnut Tree and the Roots of Plant Horror.” Plant Horror: The Monstrous Vegetal. Ed. Dawn Keetley and Angela Tenga. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 163-178. Print.
“Exploring Ideas.” Discover the Writer in You: A Guide to College Composition. Ed. Phil Fox. Austin, TX: Sentia Publishing. 2016. Print.
“Hypersaurus Rex: Recombinant Reality in Jurassic Park.” Unnatural Reproductions and Monstrosity: The Birth of the Monster in Literature, Film, and Media. Ed. Andrea Wood and Brandy Schillace. NY: Cambria Press, 2014. 213-234. Print.
“Abyss of Simulation.” _Deconstructing Brad Pitt. Ed. Christopher Schaberg and Robert Bennett. NY: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014. 78-93. Print.
“The Soft Bodies of Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Simulation in Media and Culture: Believing the Hype. Ed. Robin DeRosa. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011. 69-76. Print.
“Soft Murders: Motion Pictures and Living Death in Diary of the Dead.” Generation Zombie: Essays on the Living Dead in Popular Culture. Ed. Stephanie Boluk and Wylie Lenz. Jefferson: McFarland, 2011. 101-112. Print.
“Showdown in the Café 80’s: Back to the Future as Baudrillardian Parable.” The Worlds of Back to the Future. Ed. Sorcha N. Fhlainn. Jefferson: McFarland, 2010. 216-31. Print.

Articles about Pedagogy and Academia
“Prevent Student Errors with a Self-Paced Syllabus Quiz.” Teaching Professor August 19, 2019. Web.
“Student Writers Become YouTube Gurus.” CollegeSTAR. (2019). Web.
“Academic Conference Panels are Boring.” Chronicle of Higher Education 64.16 (Dec. 5, 2017). Print and web.
“Reduce your G: Evaluating and Optimizing the Use of Quantitative Feedback for Writing Students.” NERA Conference Proceedings 2017. OpenCommons@UConn (2017). Web.
“A Curriculum of Things: Exploring an Object-Oriented Pedagogy.” The National Teaching and Learning Forum 25.3 (2016). 1-4. Print.
“Stimulating Departmental Dialogue with a Pedagogy Book Club.” Academic Leader 31.10 (2015). 6-7. Print.
“Getting the Most out of Guest Experts Who Speak to Your Class.” Faculty Focus May 11, 2015. Web.
“Strategies for Addressing Grammar in Threaded Discussions.” Online Classroom 15.4 (2015). 5. Print.
“What can Evolutionary Psychology Teach Us about Pedagogy?” NEFDC Exchange 26.6 (2013). 11-14. Print.
“Five Ways a Blog-Style Assignment Can Jump-Start Student Writing.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College 41.1 (2013). 75-76. Print.
“Teaching the American Dream.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College 39.2 (2011): 194. Print.
“The Self-Deconstructing Canon: Teaching the Survey Course without Perpetuating Hegemony.” Currents in Teaching and Learning. 1.2 (2009): 50-57. Web.

Articles about Film, Literature, and Culture
“No, My Three-Year-Old Daughter is Not a ‘Flirt.’” The Good Men Project. 9/7/2018. Web.
“From Bluto Blutarsy to Donald Trump: The United States of ‘Animal House’ at 40.” Salon. 7/28/2018. Web.
“Castaway on the Hyperobject: Getting Lost with Timothy Morton.” Journal of Popular Television 5.2 (2017): 195-209. Print.
“Lost: Une « Romance » Shakespearienne?” With Sarah Hatchuel. TV/Series Hors séries 1 (2016). Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
“Why I Identify as Mammal.” New York Times 10/25/2015. SR7. Print.
“Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Baudrillard’s Perfect Crime.” International Journal of Baudrillard Studies 10.1 (2013). Web.
“Alex Haley’s Roots and Hyperreal Historiography.” MediaScape Winter (2012). Web.
“Murder and Montage: Oliver Stone’s Hyperreal Period.” MediaScape Winter (2012). Web.
“Songs for Extinct Species: An Interview with Randy Laist.” Eco-Now. Boston University. May (2012). Web.
“Don DeLillo, Norman Mailer, Stephen King, and Lee Harvey Oswald: Notes on a Pair of Letters from the Ransom Center Archive.” The Don DeLillo Society Newsletter 6.1 (2012). Web.
“Terminating the Technopocalypse in James Cameron’s Terminator Films.” Journal of South Texas English Studies 3.2 (2012): 60-87. Web.
“Hyperreal Embryology: The ‘Alien’ films and Baudrillard’s Phases of Simulation.” The Projector 12.1 (2012): 26-57. Web.
“Welcome to the Desert of the Wheel: A Phenomenological Reading of Wheel of Fortune.” Journal of Popular Film and Television 40.1 (2012): 14-21. Print.
“Bullet-Time in Simulation City: Revisiting Baudrillard and The Matrix by Way of the ‘Real 1999.’” Alphaville 2 (2012): n. pag. Web.
“Lost in DeLillo.” The Don DeLillo Society Newsletter 4.2 (2010). Web.
“The Hyperreal Theme in 1990s American Cinema.” Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture 9.1 (2010). Print and Web.
“The Concept of Disappearance in Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis.” Critique 51.3 (2010): 257-275. Print.
“Rappaccini’s Planet: The Legacy of Hawthorne in Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, and DeLillo’s White Noise.” Ecloga 8 (2010): 66-77. Print.
“An American Dream: American Existentialism.” The Mailer Review 3.1 (2010): 61-85. Print.
“Profiles in Ontological Rebellion: The Presence of Moby-Dick in Heathers.” Leviathan 11.3 (2009): 72-78. Print.
“‘The Style of What is to Come’: Representation of the World Trade Center in the Novels of Don DeLillo.” Environment, Space, Place 1.1 (2009): 121-138. Print.
“Oedison Rex: The Art of Media Metaphor in Don DeLillo’s Americana.” Modern Language Studies 37.2 (2008): 50-63. Print.
“Dear Deleuze: YouTube, Virginia Tech, and the Reterritorialization of Media Violence.” In Short Journal Spring. (2008): n. pag. Web.
“The Canon Issue in Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo.” With Jerry R. Phillips. Academic Exchange Quarterly 12.1 (2008): 78-82. Print.
“Don DeLillo’s Only Intertextual Character: Tracing White Noise’s Murray Siskind Back to DeLillo’s Pseudonymous Novel.” The Explicator 66.2 (2008): 115-8. Print.
“Implications of The Incredible Shrinking Man Allusion in Don DeLillo’s Americana.” Notes on Contemporary Literature 37.5 (2007): 6-8. Print.
“Postmodern Transcendentalism: Sunsets in Don DeLillo’s White Noise.” CEA Magazine 18 (2007): 28-37. Print.
“Apocalyptic Nostalgia in the Prologue of Don DeLillo’s Underworld.” Forum 5.1 (2007): n. pag. Web.
“Kafka 2.0: YouTube Metamorphoses.” Journal of the Kafka Society of America 13.1 (2006): 37-42. Print.

Reviews, Reference Book Entries, Local Journalism, Educational Videos, and Poetry
“Marianne’s Toads” and “Weird Miracle.” Connecticut’s Best Emerging Poets. Z Publishing. 2018. Print.
“Goodwin College examines race relations in Connecticut since ‘Roots.’” The CT Mirror. 9/13/2017. Web.
Alex Haley: And the Books that Changed a Nation. Robert J. Norrell. New York: Saint Martin’s Press, 2015. Making Roots: A Nation Captivated. Matthew F. Delmont. Oakland: University of California Press, 2016. Modern Language Studies 47.1 (2017). 66-69. Print.
“At Goodwin, research begins with answering questions, even after Bigfoot.” East Hartford Gazette. 4/13/2017. 5. Print.
“Analysis of Character in James Joyce’s ‘Eveline’” (video). Gyldendal Education. 2017.
“Advice to his Son, on Learning to Walk in New Haven.” Contemporary Poetry: An Anthology of Best Poems, Vol. 3. 52-53. Print.
Material Ecocriticism. Ed. Serenella Iovino and Serpil Oppermann. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014. [Inter]sections 19 (2016). Web.
Better Living through Criticism: How to Think about Art, Literature, Beauty, and Truth by A. O. Scott. NY: Penguin Press, 2016. Interartive 85 (2016). Web.
“Chip Kidd” and “The Cheese Monkeys.” Encyclopedia of Contemporary Fiction. Ed., Facts on File, Inc.: New York, 2009. Print.
“The Honey Thief” by Elizabeth Graver. Encyclopedia of Contemporary Fiction. Ed., Facts on File, Inc.: New York, 2009. Print.
“Sartre’s Nausea” and “McCarthy’s The Road.” The Dictionary of Literary Characters. Ed., Facts on File, Inc.: New York, 2009. Print.
Don DeLillo: The Possibility of Fiction by Peter Boxall. NY: Routledge, 2006. The Rocky Mountain Review 62.2 (2008): 151-153. Print.
Don DeLillo: Balance at the Edge of Belief by Jesse Kavadlo. NY: Peter Lang, 2004. The Rocky Mountain Review 62.1 (2008): 155-157. Print.
Beyond Grief and Nothing: A Reading of Don DeLillo by Joseph Dewey. Columbia: The University of South Carolina Press, 2006. The Rocky Mountain Review 61.1 (2007): 156-158. Print.
Conference Presentations
“The Ambiguous Drama of Seeing in Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Northeast Popular Culture Association. November, 2019. Portsmouth, NH.
Poster session: “Writing Our Truth: Empowering Student Writers through Self-Publication.” Fifth Annual CAST UDL Symposium. August, 2019. Cambridge, MA.
Panel chair: “Universal Design for Learning in the College Writing Class.” Northeast Modern Language Association. March 2019. Washington, D.C.
“Was 9/11 ‘Like a Movie’? If So, Which One?” Northeast Popular Culture Association. October 2018. Worcester, MA.
Poster session: “Evaluating the Relationship between Confidence and Engagement in the Writing Classroom.” Northeast Educational Research Association. October 2018. Trumbull, CT.
“Stories from the Field: UDL at Goodwin College” CAST. July 2018. Webinar.
Poster session: “Small Group Narrated PowerPoint Study Guide YouTube Videos: An Activity for Enhancing Alternate Means of Engagement and Representation in the Writing Classroom.” UDL-IRN Summit. April 2018. Orlando, FL.
“Re-thinking Critical Thinking for the Internet Age.” UConn First Year Writing Conference. April 2018. Hartford, CT.
Panel co-chair: “70 Years of Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery.’” Northeast Modern Language Association. April 2018. Pittsburgh, PA.
“Communities of Knowledge: Distributive Epistemology in Academic Panels and Multi-Contributor Volumes.” Modern Language Association. January 2018. New York, NY.
Poster session: “APA All the Way: Effects of a Conversion to an All-APA Model.” Northeast Educational Research Association. October 2017. Trumbull, CT.
“Towering Infernos, Smoldering Anxieties: The Twin Towers in Film, 1971-1978.” Northeast Popular Culture Association. October 2017. Amherst, MA.
“TrumpLillo: American Misshapens.” The Body Artist: A Conference on Don DeLillo. April 2017. New York, NY.
Panel chair: “Going back to Roots: Revisiting the Ground-breaking Miniseries.” Northeast Modern Language Association. March 2017. Baltimore, MD.
“Reduce your G: Evaluating the Impact of Quantitative Feedback for Writing Students.” Northeast Educational Research Association. October 2016. Trumbull, CT.
“Tap-Dancing with Jesus, King Kong, and the Wizard of Oz atop the Twin Towers.” Northeast Popular Culture Association. October 2016. Keene, NH.
“Uncanny Psychology: Lost in the Hypersubject.” Journée d’études sur LOST. April 2016. Rennes, France.
Panel chair (in absentia): “One Hundred Years of Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.” Northeast Modern Language Association. April 2016. Hartford, CT.
Poster session: “Implementing an Experiential Model of Business Writing Instruction.” Northeast Educational Research Association. October 2015. Trumbull, CT.
“Uncanny Ecology: Lost in the Hyperobject.” Northeast Popular Culture Association. October 2015. New London, NH.
Panel chair: “Let’s Get Published! Student Writers as Content Providers.” Northeast Modern Language Association. April 2015. Toronto, Canada.
“Embedded Writing: Composition in the Community.” Northeast Modern Language Association. April 2015. Toronto, Canada.
“Hyperreality and the Western Imagination in Prospero’s Books.” Shakespeare 450 Congress. April 2014. Paris, France.
Panel chair: “Teaching a Mystery: Preserving a Space for Spookiness in the Writing Classroom.” March 2014. Harrisburg, PA.
“Plant Studies.” College English Association Conference. April 2013. Savannah, GA.
“The Definition of ‘Is’: Bill Clinton Goes to the Movies.” Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association Conference. April 2013. Washington, D.C.
Panel chair: “Eat Your Vegetables (Before They Eat You!): Plants in Fiction and Culture.” Modern Language Association Conference, under the aegis of the College English Association. January 2013. Boston, MA.
Panel chair: “Cosmopolis: Novel and Film.” Don DeLillo Society Conference. April 2012. New York, NY.
“‘The art, the artist, the landscape, the sky’: Ontological Crossings in Love-Lies-Bleeding.” Don DeLillo Society Conference. April 2012. New York, NY.
“Eco’s Authentic Fake, Baudrillard’s Hyperreal, Žižek’s Third Pill, and Schwarzenegger’s True Lies.” Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association Conference. April 2012. Boston, MA.
Panel chair: “Digital Dreaming: Reading YouTube.” Northeast Modern Language Association Conference. March 2012. Rochester, NY.
“Total Recall: The Hyperrealization of Arnold Schwarzenegger.” College English Association Conference. March 2012. Richmond, VA.
“Ain’t I a Xenomorph?: Representations of Post-Feminist Identity in the Alien Films.” Northeast Popular Culture / American Culture Association Conference. November 2011. Danbury, CT.
“Welcome to the Desert of the Wheel: A Phenomenological Reading of ‘Wheel of Fortune.’” College English Association Conference. April 2011. St. Petersburg, FL.
“Oliver Stone’s Hyperreal Period.” Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association Conference. April 2011. San Antonio, TX.
Panel chair: “Completely Lost: Going Back to TV’s Most Elusive Island.” Northeast Language Association Conference. March 2010. Montreal, Canada.
“Technology and Postmodern Subjectivity in Don DeLillo’s Novels.” Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900. February 2010. Louisville, KY.
Panel chair: “Lost at NeMLA: Mapping TV’s Most Elusive Island.” Northeast Modern Language Association Conference. February 2009. Boston, MA.
“Anglo-Saxons in America: Zemeckis’s Beowulf and ‘The Mentality that got us into War.’” Modern Language Association Conference. December 2008. San Francisco, CA.
“Showdown at the Café 80’s: Back to the Future as Baudrillardian Parable.” Mid-Atlantic Popular American Culture Association Conference. November 2008. Ontario, Canada.
“Rappaccini’s Planet: The Legacy of Hawthorne in Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, and DeLillo’s White Noise.” Nathaniel Hawthorne Society Conference. June 2008. Bowdoin University, ME.
Panel chair: “Falling Man: Themes and Perspectives” for the Don DeLillo Society. American Literature Association Conference. May 2008. San Francisco, CA.
“The Self-Deconstructing Canon: Teaching the Classics without Perpetuating Hegemony.” Northeast Modern Language Association Conference. April 2008. Buffalo, NY.
“Postmodern Transcendence: Sunsets in Don DeLillo’s White Noise.” College English Association Conference. March 2008. St. Louis, MO.
“Psychic Garbage in Don DeLillo’s Underworld.” City College of New York “Talking Trash” Graduate Conference. February 2008. New York, NY.
“Kafka 2.0: YouTube Metamorphoses.” Modern Language Association Conference. December 2007. Chicago, IL.
“Enter the Code: Cybernetic Aspiration in Don DeLillo’s White Noise.” Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Conference. November 2007. Portland, ME.
“American Existentialism and Narrative Technique in Mailer’s Early Novels.” Norman Mailer Society Conference. October 2007. Provincetown, RI.
“‘The Style of What is to Come’: Images of the World Trade Center in the Novels of Don DeLillo.” International Association for the Study of Environment, Space, and Place Conference. April 2007. Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA.
“The Novel as Poetry: A Reading of Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist.” Graduate English Conference of Southern Connecticut State University. April 2007. New Haven, CT.
“Toxic Spectacle / Infected Spectator: The Postmodern Transcendentalism of Don DeLillo.” Conference on “Another Way In.” March 2007. Boston College, Boston, MA.
“Norman Mailer’s Why are We at War?” Conference on “Literary Responses to 9/11.” March 2007. University of Westminster, London.
“Profiles in Ontological Rebelliousness: The Presence of Moby-Dick References in Heathers.” Modern Language Association Conference. December 2006. Philadelphia, PA.
“Norman Mailer and the Metaphysics of 9/11.” Norman Mailer Society Conference. November 2006. Provincetown, RI.
“Postmodern Landscapes in Don DeLillo’s White Noise.” Mid-Atlantic Popular American Culture Association Conference. October 2006. Baltimore, MD.
“Slimy Vampires and Sliding Saints: Dispersal of Being in An American Dream.” Norman Mailer Society Conference. November 2005. Provincetown, RI.
Teaching Philosophy
It has always seemed to me that the real meaning of English as a discipline has yet to be fully appreciated. Although "writing across the curriculum" programs have begun to acknowledge that English is a meta-disciplinary way of seeing rather than, or in addition to, a discrete field of information, the full significance of this insight is obscured by a vaguely mechanical understanding of what "writing" is. English is not only a meta-discipline because all other disciplines employ language, but, more importantly, because "English" is the study of how to see invisible things, how to open an opaque object to interpretability, and how to invent something to write about. In common with the teachers of other disciplines but to a much greater degree, English teachers are always aware that what we teach is not only or even primarily the subject matter at hand – Beowulf or Steppenwolf – but something beyond the horizon of our words themselves. We want to show our students the beautiful complexities of literary objects as a way of pointing outward toward the manner in which all human activity is characterized by an implicit textuality and bottomless interpretability. As an English teacher at the high school and college levels, my principle objective has always been to make my students understand that they are always already practitioners of hermeneutic strategies in, for example, their relationships with other people, their interaction with popular culture, and in their political and personal value structures. To read a text and to articulate a response to it is to catch ourselves in the act of thinking and to become conscious of how we behave as intellectual agents.

My teaching philosophy begins with the premise that we are all English majors all of the time. Not only are we constantly engaged in the reception of texts – especially in the contemporary media environment of news stories, pop songs, and television scenarios – but, moreover, there is a textual logic underlying all of our institutions and sciences. Inculcating an awareness of this condition serves the multiple functions of making potentially exotic texts seem less foreign, activating an enormous latent reservoir of background expertise which each English student carries, and opening a two-way portal between the content of the class and the students’ lifeworld. When I teach literature, I encourage students to articulate statements about how the worldview expressed by the writer conforms to or conflicts with their own understanding of the world. When I teach writing, I employ assignments that give students the greatest possible freedom to investigate their own unique concerns, while at the same time embedding those concerns within a rhetorical structure and set of conventions that most effectively communicates their ideas.

More important than the validity or profundity of any particular thesis, however, is the process of discriminating, synthesizing, and evaluating intellectual objects: the dramatic action of critical thought itself. In the interest of presenting the variety and dynamism of the hermeneutic imagination, my classes employ small group activities in which clusters of students work out and present complementary or conflicting interpretations of texts, reflection writing in which students describe the inspiration and evolution of their essays’ arguments, and collective brainstorming of alternate interpretive responses to specific cultural ideas. The diversity of interpretive strategies is the diversity of the world, of human cultures, beliefs, and personalities, and also the infinite diversity of future possibilities. This may sound more like a spiritual than a pedagogical philosophy, but I consider an English classroom to be a kind of laboratory of consciousness and a crucible of human energies.