Mike Reynolds Faculty Profile

Mike Reynolds

Professor - English

Mike Reynolds has taught in Hamline's English department since the Fall of 2001, after a brief stint at Oberlin College in Ohio. Since arriving his exaggerated enthusiasm for institutional service has led him into the directorship of Hamline's Collaborative Research program, co-directorship of the Race, Gender, and Beyond faculty development program, and membership (and chair duties) on a range of College and University committees and has served as Associate Provost.

Mike primarily teaches courses in American literature, film, and culture, mostly concentrated in work produced after 1865. He also has experience teaching world literatures (with a particular emphasis on South Africa) and disability studies. He has published on narratives of the Kennedy assassination, multicultural pedagogy in the world literatures classroom, and teaching theory through the films of Spike Lee. Mike Reynolds received his B.A. from St. Lawrence University in 1989 (majoring in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing) and his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 2000 (in English). He lives in (and loves) the Hamline-Midway neighborhood.

Mike finds that we sometimes have an unfortunate tendency to draw a hard line between the experiences (and pleasures) of everyday reading and the theoretical abstractions (and difficulties) of (merely) academic ‘criticism.’ In other words, people hear “theory” or "English class" and they think of a) work, not pleasure, and b) ivory-tower complexities, not actual interpretive practices. Mike says "screw that".  He believes that cultural theory and critical practice build from a wide range of disparate, counter-intuitive, sometimes-difficult philosophies–but, any way you cut it, the goal in the classroom is to develop and test-drive rigorous ways to organize our thoughts about how we think, and about how (and why, and what) we read (and see, and know). Mike believes that every class is full of readers/viewers/writers with a LOT of experience. The goal in class is to build on your existing expertise and skills, help you to become a practicing academic and an even better enthusiast in the stuff you relish; classes in our department will enliven, enervate, energize, expand, and enrich the ways you interpret.

"I once failed a driving test because I couldn’t parallel park a van, but I could explain to the examiner *why* I failed and how – and so he passed me. Real, long-term learning isn't about this test or that essay; good classes help you think about what works and what doesn’t—and help you care less about that final, ephemeral “thing” you produce at this particular moment. The goal is to get really good at knowing yourself and how you practice, so that over the long run you continue to improve."

- Michael Reynolds

How to Analyze the Films of Spike Lee. Minneapolis, MN: Essential Library, 2010. A manuscript in a series on the teaching of critical theory in high school curricula.

“Misinterpretation: The work of discipline (and other problems) in a general-education World Literature Survey.” Journal of the Midwest Modern Languages Association 39.1 (Spring 2006).

“The Glassy Knoll: Identity and Identification in Kennedy Narratives.” JPCS: Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society 6.1 (Spring 2001). 83-96.

Recent Presentations

“'I laugh sometimes too’: Viewer pleasure as moral vision in the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men.” Annual Meeting of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, March 2010.