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Media Writing

As a professional journalist and journalism teacher, I have mastered the art of media writing. Below are links to some of the articles I've written for news publications.

Academic Writing

With three degrees earned and a fourth degree in progress, I've certainly done my share of academic writing. Here I will share three of my favorite pieces.

A socio-political essay on pop culture

The first is an essay I wrote in 2005 for my "Greek Drama and Myth" class at Northwestern State University of Louisiana. The essay is about misogynistic treatment of women in rap songs of the late 90s and early 2000s. Disclaimer: This article references and links to explicit lyrics that will likely be offensive to most audiences. The intention of the article is not to perpetuate vulgarity and misogyny. It is to raise awareness of its saturating presence in popular culture.

"That Bitch Pandora Lives On My Block: Depictions of Troublesome Women in Recent Rap Songs"

A literary analysis of the Harry Potter series

My second academic writing sample was also written in 2005 for the same "Greek Drama and Myth" class as referenced above. In this essay I explain how the Weasley twins fit the trickster archetype established in ancient mythology. This essay was written before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published, so it does not mention the eventual fate of Fred Weasley.

"The Weasley Twins as Tricksters in the Harry Potter Series"

My magnum opus

The last piece of academic writing I will share with you here is the most significant thing I've ever written, the capstone research project for my master's degree, written in 2010. The paper is titled Why Do We Have to Read This? A Snapshot of Local Literature Teachers' Curriculum Choices. This research project includes case studies of local literature teachers and explores their curriculum-making practices.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

Scratch. Tick. Scratch. It was seventh period, and I was alone in the classroom. I wistfully eyed the clock, listening to the combined rhythm of its ticks and the sounds of my pen scrawling large, obnoxious, hot pink X's on multiple choice tests. As I tallied the next student's grade, I crossly mumbled to myself, "Has my supervising teacher never heard of Scantrons?" It wasn't that manually grading a multiple choice test was an exhausting task. What was taxing (and somewhat psychologically damaging for a student teacher) was having to scratch down F after F after D after F on 11th-grade papers.

When Ms. Starr, my supervising teacher, entered the room to check on my progress (It was Friday. She hoped to have all tests graded before the 2:30 bell, so we wouldn't have to take them home over the weekend), she could tell I was disturbed.

"I don't get it," I moaned. "Why are the students failing this test? There are so many F's. Some of them didn't even get half of the questions right."

"Why do you think, Elaine?" she replied caustically. "Because they didn't bother to read the damned book."

The "damned book" Ms. Starr was referring to was Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. As an avid Twain scholar, Ms. Starr would have never mentioned this novel with such a sneer in any other context. But on that Friday afternoon, she and I were united in our frustration over the students' poor performance. The test I was grading was what Ms. Starr called a "reading check" test. The students (the majority of whom are labeled gifted) were given about four weeks to read Huckleberry Finn outside of class. The reading check test marked the deadline, and appropriately named, it tested whether the students read the book or not. It contained no complicated questions on themes or literary devices. It simply checked whether the students were familiar with basic plot events and character descriptions.

Ms. Starr and I ended up staying at school about 20 minutes late to finish grading the tests. As I trudged across the emptying parking lot that afternoon and miserably plopped into my driver's seat, I worried about the rest of the semester. I felt disillusioned by the students' lackadaisical attitude towards completing the assigned reading, and I dreaded the negative climate of the classroom on Monday when Ms. Starr revealed their abysmal grades.

Sure enough, the D's and F's were received with grumbles and gripes. Ms. Starr proclaimed that the students would be retested on Friday, not to replace the grades they just received but to be added to those grades.

"If you failed it once, you better read the book, or you're going to fail it again. Then you'll have two F's instead of one," Ms. Starr warned.

It was after this proclamation that one of the most awkward moments of my student teaching experience occurred.

A student turned to me and said, "Ms. Broussard, this book really sucks. Why do we have to read this?"

I froze. I had no idea what to say. I could think of several reasons why I appreciated Mark Twain and why I found value in Huckleberry Finn. But how do you articulate this to a 16-year-old kid?

"Umm, ask Ms. Starr, hon," I replied. "She assigned the reading."

The student rolled his eyes at my cop out, and I turned away frustrated and flustered. That brief exchange left me feeling more befuddled than any of my previous student interactions. I had failed to articulate an intelligent rationale for the class objectives. Even though it wasn't my class, as a student teacher, I still felt responsible for helping the students understand why their schoolwork was important. The "why" is important to children, both small and nearly grown, and as a teacher, if you cannot provide it, you cannot expect your students to take your assignments seriously. It's the answer to this "why" that I am determined to develop for myself.

To view the full text of my research project, click the link below.

"Why Do We Have to Read This? A Snapshot of Local Literature Teachers' Curriculum Choices"