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Reading Redefined: Presenters

Reading Redefined: Deep reading, learning, and the impact of digitization


Maryanne Wolf, Ph.D., keynote address

Maryanne Wolf received her doctorate from Harvard University in the Department of Human Development and Psychology in the Graduate School of Education, where she began her work on the neurological underpinnings of reading, language, and dyslexia. Professor Wolf was awarded the Distinguished Professor of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Psychological Association, and also the Teaching Excellence Award from the American Psychological Association.

She was a Fulbright Fellow in Germany where she conducted research on dyslexia in German-speaking children. Her current research in collaboration with Dr. Pat Bowers concerns a new conceptualization of developmental dyslexia, the Double-Deficit Hypothesis. This work was the subject of a recent special issue of the Journal of Learning Disabilities. Along with colleagues Dr. Robin Morris and Dr. Maureen Lovett, Professor Wolf has been awarded a NICHD Shannon Award for Innovative Research and several multiyear NICHD grants to investigate new approaches to reading intervention.

She is the author of the RAVE-O Intervention Program, an evidence-based fluency comprehension program for struggling readers that has proven successful in two major federal studies.

She received the Norman Geschwind Lecture Award from the International Dyslexia Association for neuroscience research in dyslexia. She has edited the book, Dyslexia, Fluency, and the Brain and is the author of Proust and the Squid: The story and science of the reading brain.

Natalie M. Phillips, plenary address

Natalie M. Phillips, Assistant Professor of English at Michigan State University, specializes in 18th-century literature, the history of mind, and cognitive approaches to narrative. Her first book project, Distraction: Problems of Attention in Eighteenth-Century Literature (in progress) traces how changing Enlightenment ideas about the unfocused mind reshaped literary form, arguing that descriptions of distraction in narrative advanced–and often complicated–scientific theories of concentration. She is also a leading figure in the emerging field of literary neuroscience, pioneering a series of interdisciplinary experiments that use neuroscientific tools, such as fMRI and eye tracking, to explore the cognitive dynamics of literary reading. She is co-founder of the Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition Lab in the Department of English at MSU, and Lead Faculty for Literary Neuroscience and History of Mind.  In addition, she is a collaborating scientist with Stanford University, Lund University, and Umea for a research initiative, “Culture, Brain, and Learning,” supported by the Wallenberg Foundation of Sweden.  Current experiments include an fMRI of literary attention (Neuroventures), an eye-tracking study of digital media (Wallenberg Foundation), and a project-in-progress on narrative empathy and stories of trauma. This work has grown into her second book project, tentatively entitled Literary Neuroscience and the Aesthetics of the Brain, 1700-2012, which theorizes a more reciprocal relationship between literature and neuroscience in interdisciplinary experiments and historicizes literary renderings of the brain from the 18th century to the present.

Phillips’ research has been supported by the American Council for Learned Societies, the Mellon Foundation, the Wallenberg Foundation, the TEAGLE Foundation, the Stanford Center for Neurobiological Imaging, the Stanford Humanities Center, the MSU College of Arts and Letters, and the Royal Bibliographic Society. Her work on Jane Austen and the history of attention has appeared in Theory of Mind and Literature and the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, and new essays in literary neuroscience and the history of mind are forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook for Cognitive Approaches to Literature (Oxford, 2013); Eighteenth-Century Poetry and the Rise of the Novel (Bucknell, 2013); and Humanities and the Digital (MIT Press, 2013).

Troy Hicks, Ph.D.

Dr. Troy Hicks is an associate professor of English at Central Michigan University and focuses his work on the teaching of writing, literacy and technology, and teacher education and professional development. A former middle school teacher, he collaborates with K–12 colleagues and explores how they implement newer literacies in their classrooms. Hicks directs CMU’s Chippewa River Writing Project, a site of the National Writing Project, and he frequently conducts professional development workshops related to writing and technology.

Kristen Hawley Turner, Ph.D.

Dr. Turner is an associate professor of English education and contemporary literacies in the Division of Curriculum and Teaching at Fordham University. A certified teacher of secondary English and social studies, she taught high school in New Jersey for six years before shifting focus to teacher education. She has taught pre-service and in-service education courses at Rutgers University and Rider University, and she is a consultant for the National Writing Project. She directs the Fordham Digital Literacies Collaborative and serves as a lead editor for Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care.

Katherine Lester

Katherine Lester is a School Library Media Specialist at East Middle School in Plymouth-Canton Community Schools. She has been a School Library Media Specialist since 2001, supporting reading, technology integration, and information literacy with the goal of empowering students (as stated in AASL Standards) to be “critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information.” She is a proud alum of Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science program and the 2015 recipient of the WSU SLIS Professional Service Award. She is also recipient of the 2012 State Librarian’s Excellence Award. Katherine is a Past-President of the Michigan Association for Media in Education (MAME).

Steven Putt

Steven Putt is the Systems and Web Librarian for Grand Rapids Community College and currently serves as library liaison to the departments of Computer Information Systems, Disability Support Services, Photography, and Visual Arts.  Steven has also created digital collections and processed physical collections of archival material for the Grand Rapids Community College Archives, Heritage Hall Archives at Calvin College, and the Woody Guthrie Archives.

Sean C. Mackey

Sean C. Mackey is an assistant professor of English at Grand Rapids Community College and editor of GRCC’s Display magazine, which presents the college’s best and brightest student poets, fiction writers, prose writers, artists, photographers, and graphic designers. Mackey is described as a “world citizen” who spent several years in Ghana and has walked 220 miles across Michigan twice to raise funds for a school in Ghana. Students in Mackey’s courses explore race, politics and social justice in their writing. He hopes to inspire them to actively improve the world and their communities.