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About Cynthia Dobbs

Teaching Philosophy
My central goal as a teacher is to empower students.  My primary methodology is conversation. Sometimes this conversation takes the form of extensive comments on multiple essay drafts. Sometimes the conversation takes place in individual writing conferences, where I guide students in recognizing, testing, and clarifying their own ideas through their writing. Often, most fruitfully, the conversation excludes me altogether, as I task students to tackle certain complex questions together through student-led lectures, "jigsaw" collaborative assignments, and group performances. Despite my title, I don't think my task is "to profess"; rather, I consider it my job to coach students as they broaden their interests, deepen their thinking, and embolden their voices. 

Scholarly Interest
My scholarly interests are interdisciplinary in nature. Incorporating angles of vision from American cultural studies, modernist studies, critical race theory, gender theory, and affect theory, my work focuses broadly on the relationships between aesthetics and trauma in modern and contemporary American literature. My published scholarship has centered on American modernists William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison, looking at how each of these authors engages with questions of racial and sexual trauma, haunting, desire, migration, and cultural resistance. More recently, I have been studying contemporary poet and essayist Claudia Rankine's innovative use of form to question social constructions of "race" and gender as they shape the public and private experiences of disease and diagnosis.  Finally, I am at work on a collection of narrative nonfiction and lyric essays concerning illness, the body, language, and identity.


2004 - Present Associate Professor of English, University of the Pacific College of the Pacific
1999 - 2004 Assistant Professor of English, University of the Pacific College of the Pacific
1998 - 1999 Visiting Assistant Professor of English, University of the Pacific College of the Pacific
1999 Instructor, University of California, Berkeley Extension
1987 - 1989 Secondary School English Teacher, United States Peace Corps ‐ Botswana

Curriculum Vitae

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Honors and Awards

  • Eberhardt Teacher-Scholar Award, 2013
  • Phi Kappa Phi, 2010
  • Judith Chambers Excellence in Service Award, 2009
  • Pacific Woman of Distinction Award, 2009
  • Joan Lee Yang Poetry Prize, University of California at Berkeley, 1992
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Pomona College, 1987


  • Faulkner/Morrison
  • Blues, Jazz, and Literature
  • Black Women Writers
  • "Race," Gender, and Representation in Fiction and Film Diagnosis
  • Surveys of American Literature
  • Creative Writing: Fiction
  • Creative Writing: Nonfiction
  • Introduction to Gender Studies
  • Pacific Seminars 2 and 3


1998 Ph.D., English, University of California, Berkeley
1987 B.A., English, Pomona College

Contact Information

Phone: 209.946.2229


Articles (12)

Journal articles written by Dr. Cynthia Dobbs.

Presentations (20)

Presentations and lectures given by Dr. Cynthia Dobbs.