biophotoKatt Blackwell-Starnes, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor & Writing Director
Department of English and Modern Languages
Lamar University

Student Relations Biography

I work with students in many different ways. At both the undergraduate and graduate level, I mentor student research projects, whether for a course, a university symposium, or a national conference. I also serve on thesis and oral exam committees for graduate students. Outside my department, I serve as a faculty advisor for the Lamar Veterans Organization.

Graduate Thesis Committees

Lange, Aric I. Love and Living: Moral Education and the Management of Eros in Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince, The Green Knight, and The Sea, The Sea. 2016. Director: Dr. Smith

Abstract: Iris Murdoch’s male characters in The Sea, the Sea, The Black Prince  and The Green Knight are flawed human beings trying to find their way through life as well as achieve their desires, especially desire related to love. However, these desires become sources of problematic fantasies, stemming from a selfish wish to protect the ego. As these men become more delusional in their growing fantasies, they inflict a great deal of harm on the people around them as well as on themselves. In The Sea, the Sea, one man manipulates loved ones as puppets. In The Black Prince, another rapes his lover. And in The Green Knight, several men try to simply survive the realities of death and love. Each of these men is affected, sometimes obsessed, by his love of life, of art, or of an individual in his life. According to Murdoch, salvation lies in viewing objects of love (eros), especially human beings, ethically with moral attention, a term borrowed from Simone Weil. By forming a habit of seeing in such a way, the selfish illusions originating from the ego are diminished and a more accurate vision of those objects of love, and of broader reality, is made possible. When these men cultivate a habit of attention, they become powerful moral agents living full lives that do not victimize other human beings.

Lansdale, Sheila Michelle. Visual Rhetoric in Calvin Klein Advertising. 2015. Director: Dr. Blackwell-Starnes

Abstract: Calvin Klein founded his first company in 1968 and remains successful today. His printed advertisements continue to appear in popular fashion magazines, and his clothing and fragrances are available in top-end stores around the world. For this paper, I studied a carefully selected set of Klein’s advertisements and paid particular attention to sex as the important common selling aspect within these ads. This paper discusses visual rhetoric within Klein’s printed advertisements. Because most of Klein’s ads do not contain text other than the branding, I claim the ads are created to be read as narratives which appeal to sexual fantasy themes; furthermore, Klein achieves this narrative appeal through the use of pornography.

Graduate Oral Exam Committees

Since 2016, I served on 11 graduate oral committees for English students, chairing 4 of these committees. I also served on two graduate exam committees for Master of Arts in Teaching Spanish graduate students.

Graduate Research

In 2018, Katherine Waterbury and I presented findings on graduate writing anxiety at the 2018 Conference on College Composition and Communication.

In 2015, Salena Parker, Michael Saar (librarian), and I presented on our Presidential Faculty Fellowship at the 2016 Georgia International Conference on Information Literature.

Undergraduate Research

I mentored 4 undergraduate students who presented their work at Lamar’s  Annual Humanities, Arts, Social and Behavior Sciences, Education and Business Conference or at the Undergraduate Research Expo. Currently, I am mentoring 3 students who are seeking publication of articles written in my 2018 Academic Writing course.