My pedagogical practices are informed by my expertise in digital media production. As a consultant at UW’s DesignLab, a transmedia storytelling center dedicated to democratizing digitality, I designed innovative curricular materials for emerging “smart media” genres such as visual essays, podcasts, and multimodal presentations. Through one-on-one consultations and classroom presentations, I empowered students and faculty to translate their ideas into new forms for diverse audiences. Drawing upon this experience, I train my students not only in textual analysis and essay writing but also in transmedia storytelling: final projects have ranged from lecture performances to museum exhibition prototypes to mobile games. For example, I work with UW’s ARIS (Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling) team in coaching students to create interactive place-based learning experiences. Layering narrative elements such as character and plot, media elements such as sound and video, and sensory elements such as pace, temperature, and scents, students remediate historical events into walking tours that unfold as the user encounters specific points along a path mapped out on their smartphone. Students thus practice techniques of game design, multimedia storytelling, and experience design while activating embodied, site-specific experiences at the interface of the digital and the physical. My goal is for students to critically engage with the relationship between a text’s formal and aesthetic techniques – visual, aural, kinesthetic, tactile, olfactory, and textual elements – and conceptual dimensions. To accomplish this goal, I train students to close read textual echoes, to deploy CAT (Conceptual-Aesthetic-Technical) and UX (User Experience) analytical frameworks, and to practice the design thinking methodology. My pedagogy is also motivated by an investment in process-based learning and a conviction that intentional community is a prerequisite for invention. Whether I’m teaching textual analysis, devised performance, or transmedia storytelling, I design collaborative exercises and assignments that balance playful experimentation and intellectual rigor. View examples of my students’ “cosmograms” — interactive visual essays in the form of websites — here and here. Click on each image to navigate to each project’s website.
As the 2017-2018 Mendota Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I developed new courses in transmedia storytelling (visual essays, podcasts, and live presentations) and contemporary American literature and culture. My spring 2018 course, Seminar in the Major: “PLASTIC! Surface, Substance, Selfie,” was also a Center for Visual Cultures elective. The seminar explores the material and metaphorical significance of plastic(ity) in American drama, poetry, fiction, film, visual art, performance, and pop culture. The English Department published a story about the class, “Dr. Katie Schaag and Students Wrap Up American Plastic.” I also wrote an article about the class for Edge Effects, “The Pleasures of Teaching Plastic.” You can view a selection of students’ visual essays here.
I have several years of experience teaching African American and American literature; pop culture, film, and media studies; and multimodal composition, and I have guest lectured for introductory and advanced courses in the English Department, Art Department, and Integrated Liberal Studies Department. I have also developed several grant-supported public workshops with SALYER + SCHAAG: “Image/Text: The Performing Page” and “Collaboratory: Serious Play” at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, “Serious Play: Surrealist Experiments” at The Bubbler at Madison Public Library, and “Performance and 4D Art” at Arts + Literature Laboratory as part of the ArtWrite Collective’s Flourish! creative development series. I am prepared to teach a broad range of courses on contemporary African American and multi-ethnic American drama, poetry, and fiction; theatre and performance theory and practice; visual cultures, media studies, and pop culture; and multimedia composition, creative writing, digital storytelling, and non-verbal rhetorics (visual, sonic, embodied, digital).