Faculty Research


The talented faculty who teach in the Core Curriculum are also active members of the scholarly community. The ideas they encounter in their own disciplines and bring back to their teaching enrich the Core for all our students. Here's some of their most recent work: 

Brenda Brown, Ph.D., Professor of English

  • "The Beauty of the Grotesque in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio." Presented at USAO’s Festival of Arts and Ideas, February 2012
  • “(Mis)Fortune:  An Administrator’s Perspective.” College English Association, March 2011
  • “How a Small Liberal Arts University Can Organize for Success.” Presented at the North Central Higher Learning Commission, April 2011
  • “Creative Communication: an Interdisciplinary Approach.” Presented at the South Central Modern Language Association, October 2011
  • “Merging Voices:  Advancing the Curriculum.” College English Association. March 2010

John Bruce, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Language and Literature

  • "The Ruined Mill and the Rescued Mill: Proto-Utilitarianism in Gulliver's Travels." Presented at the South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies in Asheville, NC, March 2012

Katie Davis, MFA, Associate Professor of Drama

  • Apology II, animated short film with original screenplay by Katie Davis and USAO English Major Christopher Bennett, directed by USAO Graphics Designer Shayna Woidke. Premiered at the World Creativity Forum (11/10); released to the campus, March 2011. 

Aleisha Karjala, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science

  • Participant in a roundtable discussion titled "Small Departments, Big Workloads," in a session on Teaching Political Science at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference, April 2012.   
  • Special Issues in Teaching Political Science at a Small, Liberal Arts School.  Presented at the American Political Science Association Teaching and Learning Conference, February, 2012, Washington, D.C.
  • Small Departments, Big Workloads.  Panelist at the Midwest Political Science Association, April, 2012. Chicago.
  • Review of Obama in Office. APSA Legislative Studies Section Newsletter, July 2011.
  • Oklahoma Academy Town Hall (Municipal Government), 2011 Participant.
  • Oklahoma Academy Town Hall (Economic Development), 2012 Participant. 

Shelley Rees, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English

  • "Alienation and the Dialectics of History in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse," co-authored with Tom Connelly. Slayage: the Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. 
  • “Frontier Values Meet Big City Zombies: The Old West in AMC’s The Walking Dead, in Undead in the West: Vampires, Zombies, Mummies and Ghosts on the Cinematic Frontier, forthcoming 2012.
  • Not “Just a Show”: Critical Approaches to Mystery Science Theater 3000,” editor/introduction, special issue of Series/Season/Show, forthcoming 2012. 
  • “Women Students and Lord of the Rings: Showing Them Where They Fit In,” in Approaches to Teaching Tolkien, edited by Dr. Leslie Donovan, forthcoming from the Modern Language Association.
  • “Monsters, Ghosts, and UFOs: The Selling Out of Educational Television." Presented at the Southwest/Texas Popular and American Culture Association conference, 2010. 
  • “Robots, Zombie Slaves, or Liars: Identity and Labor in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse.” Presented at the Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses, 2010. 
  • “Empathy, Pity, and Cooperation in Lord of the Rings: How Feminine Values Save Middle Earth." Presented at the Southwest/Texas Popular and American Culture Association conference, 2009. 
  • “’A World without Sin’: Anti-Fundamentalism in Serenity” Presented at  the Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses, 2008.
  • The Brides’ Tragedy and the Myth of Cupid and Psyche,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Thomas Lovell Beddoes. Ashgate Press, 2007.

J.C. Sanders, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Physics

Zach Simpson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies

  • Life as Art: Aesthetics and the Creation of Self (forthcoming, under contract with Lexington Books)
  • Evolution, Games and God: The Principle of Cooperation. Assistant Editor (with Sarah Coakley and Martin Nowak), (forthcoming, Harvard University Press, 2011)
  • Spiritual Healing: Science, Meaning and Discernment . Assistant Editor (with Sarah Coakley), (forthcoming, Eerdmans, 2011)
  • Adventures in the Spirit: New Essays in Philosophical Theology, by Philip Clayton , Editor, (Fortress Press, 2008)
  • “Merleau-Ponty and Emergent Perception,” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 42:3 (October 2011)
  • “Desire and Subcritical Life: An Attempted Rapprochement Between Renaud Barbaras and Contemporary Systems Science,” Research in Phenomenology, 41 (2011)
  • “The Truths we tell Ourselves: Foucault on parrhesia,” presented at the Foucault Circle Annual Meeting, Banff, Alberta, Canada, 2011
  • “On the Use of Game Theory in Religion,” presented at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Regional Meeting, Denver, CO, 2011
  • “Fantasy and the Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion,” presented at the Syracuse Conference on the Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion, Syracuse, NY, April 2011
  • “The Interdisciplinary Arts and Ideas Performance Model: Philosophical, Psychological, and Practical Perspectives,” (with Steven Weber) The Fine and Performing Arts Conference of the Athens Institute for Education and Research, Athens, Greece, 2010; also accepted for the Conference on Multidisciplinary Research in Music Pedagogy, Ontario, Canada, 2010
  • “Emergence: From Science to (non-personal) Religion,” presented at the American Academy of Religion Regional Meeting, Omaha, NE, 2010

James Vaughn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology

  • “The Effect of Mortality Salience on Women’s Judgments of Male Faces,” co-authored with Kristopher Bradley and Jennifer Byrd-Craven. Evolutionary Psychology 8(3), 2010.