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Ryan Slesinger

Ryan Slesinger

Teaching Assistant Professor

Address: Morrill


PhD, University of Tulsa

MA, University of Oklahoma

BA, University of Oklahoma


Areas of Interest & Expertise
  • American Literature & Culture

  • Mysticism & Modernity

  • Multiculturalism

  • Deep Ecology, Ecocriticism & the Anthropocene

Recent Courses Taught
3000 Level
  • American Road Stories (Cross-listed with American Studies).

2000 Level
  • Survey of American Literature II (The Romantic Period to the Present).

  • Survey of American Literature I (Beginnings through the Romantic Period).

  • Race, Borders, and Intersectional Identities in America (Honors).

  • The Gothic South (Honors).

  • Wizards in Contemporary Literature (Honors).

  • Conversations in Literature.

1000 Level
  • Literature, Music, and Film of the 1960’s Counterculture (Honors).

  • Perspectives on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Honors).

  • Perspective in Artistic Eras: Romanticism through Postmodernism (Honors).

  • English Composition II

  • English Composition I

Selected Publications
  • “Teaching the Grateful Dead and Happening Pedagogy.” Teaching (with) the Grateful Dead, special issue of Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. February, 2022 (Forthcoming).

  • “John Steinbeck’s To a God Unknown: The Clearing Cycle & the Monterey Metaphysics of Ricketts, Steinbeck, and Campbell.” The Steinbeck Review, vol. 17, no. 2, Penn State UP, 2020.

  • “And Closed My Eyes To See: Buddhist Resonances in the Grateful Dead’s Lyrics.” Reading The

  • Grateful Dead: A Critical Survey, Ed. Nicholas G. Meriwether, The Scarecrow Press, 2012, 109-121. First published in the Southwest Texas Popular Culture & American Culture Association Conference Program, Albuquerque, NM, February, 2010.

  • “‘Diamond Eye Jack: Jack Kerouac, Robert Hunter, and American Spiritual Nature Writing.” The Grateful Dead and Religion, Ed. Deepak Sarma, Duke UP, Invited submission (In process).

Selected Conference Presentations
  • “Organizational Mysticism in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.” Modern Language Association Convention. Washington D.C. January, 2022 (Forthcoming).

  • “‘Diamond Eye Jack: Jack Kerouac, Robert Hunter, and American Spiritual Nature Writing.”

  • Southwest Popular Culture & American Culture Association Conference. Albuquerque, NM.

  • February, 2020.

  • “Jack Kerouac: ‘Really a Scholar, a Hip Mystic.’” American Literature Association Conference.

  • Boston, MA. May, 2019.

  • “Revisiting Steinbeck’s Early Novels.” Panel Co-organizer. American Literature Association

  • Conference. Boston, MA. May, 2017.

  • “On To a God Unknown.” American Literature Association Conference. Boston, MA. May, 2017.

  • Jack Kerouac and The Magic Mothswarm of Heaven. Sacred Literature, Secular Religion: A

  • Conference on Cultural Practices. Syracuse, NY. October, 2015.

  • “Annus Mirabilis: Thoreau in 1860.” Panel Co-organizer. Thoreau Society Conference.

  • Concord, MA. July, 2014.

  • “Adopting the Method of Nature: Henry David Thoreau and John Joseph Matthews as Spiritual

  • Stewards of the Land” Annual Gathering of the Thoreau Society. Concord, MA. July, 2014.

Professional Appointments or Professional Service
  • Steering Committee, Gateway 2 Completion

Awards and Recognition
  • College of Arts & Sciences Award for Excellence in General Education Teaching (2020).

  • Excellence in Teaching for Non-Tenure Track Faculty Award, Nominee (2020)

Current Research

I am currently at work on a book project—Mystic America—that addresses the variety of ways twentieth-century novelists represent transformational mystical experiences in their work. To relate an ineffable experience in language, novelists often create striking formal innovations that challenge our understanding of genre. I call this trend, “literary mysticism,” episodes of which are often hidden in plain sight in twentieth-century fiction.

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