Learning is personal. A good rapport between teacher and student enables intellectual growth by encouraging students to ask questions and test ideas. I try to meet each individual student where they are and to work together to develop their skills.
Students at all levels are welcome. Essay help is a particular strength of my teaching. I offer practical, specific advice for immediate revision. I have a deep knowledge of English, classical, and world literature and can guide students through difficult course material. I am also available to prepare students for standardized tests (including the GRE English literature subject test), and to help professionals who are non-native speakers gain greater proficiency in English.
I am a former English professor with 15 years of classroom experience and a PhD from Columbia. Helping students transform their writing is my strong suit. I enjoy working with students at all levels, and can explain complicated material clearly.
Assistant Professor of English, Washington University 2011-2018
Instructor in humanities courses in international Summer schools, 2018-present
Columbia University (2004-2011)
• Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature (August 2011) awarded for the dissertation, “Heterodox Drama: Theater in Post-Reformation London”.
Trinity College Dublin (1998-2002)
• BA in English (Foundation Scholar, gold medalist)
AUIA International Summer School, Beijing (2019)
• "World History from Prehistory to the Present”
• “American History from Native Civilizations to the Present”
• “Introduction to Philosophy”
ONPS International Summer School, Beijing (2018)
• “Introduction to College Writing”
• “Public Speaking”
Washington University, English Department (2011-2018)
• "Early Modern English Theater"
• "Literary Theory”
• "Personation: mixed styles of characterization in early modern theater.”
• "Early Modern Theater History Now: a state-of-the-field graduate seminar”
• “Shakespeare: an introduction”
• “Shakesqueer and Company”
• “Literature in English: Early Texts and Contexts”
• “Plays and Politics”
• “Shakespeare’s English History Plays”
• “Revenge Tragedy”
Columbia University, (2004-2011)
• “Literature and Humanities: a year-long ‘great books’ seminar”
• “Rhetoric and Composition”
• "Mixed Faith and Shared Feeling: Theater in Post-Reformation London", a co-publication of the University of Pennsylvania Press and the Folger Shakespeare Library (2018).
• "Publicity and the Early Modern Stage": an essay collection co-edited with Allison Deutermann on the role of theater in creating publics and early celebrity culture. Forthcoming from Palgrave (2020).
• "Theater Publics" co-authored with Jeff Doty. Shakespeare (2018)
• “’Most Ignorant of What He’s Most Assured’: The Hermeneutics of Predestination in Measure for Measure.” Shakespeare Studies vol. 42 (2014).
• “Martyr Acts: Playing with Foxe’s Martyrs on the Public Stage.” In Religion and Early Modern Drama, ed. Jane Degenhardt and Elizabeth Williamson Ashgate (2011)
Book and Performance Reviews
• “Paul Stegner, Confession and Memory in Early Modern English Literature" (book), Medieval and Renaissance Drama (Fall 2018).
• Review of King Lear Avant Bard (performance), Shakespeare Bulletin (Winter 2017)
• "Hamlet: The First Quarto" Taffety Punk Theatre Company (performance), Shakespeare Bulletin (Winter 2015)
• “Ellen MacKay, Persecution, Plague, and Fire: Fugitive Histories of the Stage in Early Modern England,” Theatre Journal (March 2014).
ACADEMIC AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS
• Grant-in-aid for “What Acting Is,” Folger Shakespeare Seminar (Fall 2018)
• Grant-in-aid for "Shakespeare's Theatrical Documents," Folger Shakespeare Library (Spring Symposium 2016)
• Arts & Sciences Faculty Research Grant, Washington University (Summer 2016)
• O.B. Hardison Fellowship, Folger Shakespeare Library (Spring 2015)
• Meyers Fellowship, Huntington Library (Fall 2014)
• Mellon Vertical Seminar Fellowship, Washington University (Fall 2011)
I had Musa Gurnis as a professor for two courses when I was in college. She is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about her subject. I found that her excitement made the subject material more accessible for me, as her enthusiasm was contagious. From a hard-skills perspective, she taught me to be a much better writer and editor. I still approach projects with her standards in mind several years later. I would absolutely recommend her as an instructor and can vouch for her legitimacy.
I am a law student at Washington University School of Law, and I had the sublime privilege to be taught by the distinguished Professor Musa Gurnis. When I was a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, I took my first class with Professor Gurnis, and I could not leave the university without taking more. Professor Gurnis never cuts corners; she gives every class everything that she has. She is active, and she is brilliant. I would describe her teaching style as aggressive compassion. She encourages reading texts aloud and physically acting out scenes (and virtual learning will be unlikely to change that). Her students grow because she tells us when we are right and instructs us when we are wrong. She digs deeply into the text from the entendres, to the puns, to the pentameter. It was never enough to just have her students know the material. Musa Gurnis lifts the texts off of the page. She demands excellence, and she demands engagement. She always knows where to meet her students in their learning, and I have personally seen her face light up when we meet her as well. She is a gem to every student she instructs, and she never disappoints.
I often say Musa was the best professor I had in college. She changed the way I approached academic writing completely, and was an attentive, passionate professor. I found myself producing work I was very proud of while in Musa's class, and I accredit this to the rigorous, engaging discussion that she always generated. She also consistently conducted an inclusive, accessible classroom environment.
Musa inspired me to pursue an English major and was an incredible mentor throughout my undergrad career. She taught me so much about early modern history, Shakespeare, and literary theory, but most importantly she taught me how write a really good academic English paper. She gives concrete advice, and she is honest and straightforward in her criticism. She would go through drafts with me, argument by argument, sentence by sentence, finding ways to cut out muddy reasoning, add supporting evidence, and to clarify the structure. She challenged me to read carefully, to think and write clearly, and to revise ruthlessly. With each successive paper, I gained confidence in my own abilities. I now work in editorial at a literary publishing house, and I owe it all to Musa. I can't think of anyone I'd recommend more as an educator in this field.
I took multiple English Literature classes from Musa at Washington University in St. Louis. She was an amazing teacher and advisor. She is very passionate and knowledgeable about literature, and she is deeply committed to helping her students learn and develop. Her classes made me a much better reader and writer. She is energetic and engaged as a teacher, and her coaching and guidance is thoughtful and detailed. Overall, I can't recommend her highly enough.
Musa was my Lit Hum professor and one of the best teachers I have ever had. She is not only very knowledgable but also brings an infectious enthusiasm and energy to every class. I remember wishing that she had been my professor for every class I had to take.
Musa was the first professor to really teach me how to write. She is deeply invested in her students and the material she teaches, and because of her my critical thinking and argumentation improved dramatically.
More than any other teacher, Musa helped me learn how to really engage with texts and evidence. During meetings with her about every essay, she pushed me to go deeper and be more thoughtful. She held me to higher standards than any other professor, driving me to really reflect and improve on my writing skills at every possible opportunity. Under her instruction, I became better at choosing evidence, analyzing it carefully, and organizing that into a coherent essay. By emphasizing concise and loaded argumentation, Musa helped my work become denser and more meaningful. Her deeply empathetic and respectful treatment of all of her students provided the perfect environment to grow.
I was a student in several literature courses Musa taught at Washington University in St. Louis. She was my favorite professor at the university and pushed me to develop my discussion and writing abilities. Musa is extremely passionate about her work - her classes are always exciting and well-planned. I would recommend her to any student looking to improve their writing and critical thinking abilities.
Having worked closely with Musa on a theatrical project, her knowledge and experience on the dramaturgical subjects was outstanding. Not only is she knowledgeable, but she is also friendly and a joy to work with! I would definitely recommend her for any help you need!
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