part of the Mandelbrot setDavid Barndollar

Ph.D., English | Director of the Writing Center, Director of Upper School Clubs & Activities, Instructor of English, The Potomac School

Welcome to my home page. This page remains fairly static; I update my blog (link at left) more frequently, and my various course home pages much more frequently (they tend to be accessible to students only, however).

At present, I teach a 9th-grade English course (an introduction to major literary genres) and a 12th-grade English seminar in mystery and detective fiction at The Potomac School in McLean, VA. I direct the Potomac Writing Center, supervising a staff of 28 students and coordinating the staffing schedules of these student consultants as well as faculty consultants from the English and History departments. I also direct Potomac's clubs and activities program, ensuring that these student-run groups are properly supported, advised, and coordinated so that all upper-school students have the opportunity both to explore an extracurricular interest or passion and to develop their experience and skills as participants in and eventually leaders of small organizations. Prior to working at Potomac, I chaired the English department at Laguna Blanca School in Santa Barbara, CA, and earlier in my career I taught English as well as coached soccer and track at St. John's School in Houston, TX.

I completed my Ph.D. in English at the University of Texas at Austin, with concentrations in Victorian and modern literature and in poetry and poetics. During and after my graduate career, I worked and taught in UT-Austin's Digital Writing and Research Lab, where I gained practical and theoretical grounding in computers and writing and in rhetoric and composition, as well as in educational leadership and administration. I hold an A.B. in English from Princeton University.

My publications include:

::: "The Waste Land In, Not Of, the MOO", in Currents in Electronic Literacy, Fall 2004 (8).
::: A Rationale for Teaching Hypertext Authoring in Literature Courses, DWRL White Papers Series #20030822-2 (2003).
::: with Susan Schorn, "Revisiting the Serial Format of Dickens's Novels; or, Little Dorrit Goes a Long Way," in Functions of Victorian Culture at the Present Time, edited by Christine L. Krueger, Ohio University Press, 2002.
::: "Movements in Time: Four Quartets and the Late String Quartets of Beethoven," in T. S. Eliot's Orchestra, edited by John Xiros Cooper, Garland Press, 2000.

I am presently working on a book-length introduction to prosody and versification intended for AP-level and lower-division undergraduate students of poetry, based on the materials I have developed from years of studying and teaching poetry and poetics. In my most recent AP English Literature classes, I have been refining my approach to presenting this material, and I am grateful to my students for their willingness to help me make these fundamental concepts more clear and helpful to beginning students of poetry.

In my spare time, I serve on the alumni board of the Princeton Tigertones Alumni Association. (Yes, you can find me in a few of the photos and in the video on this "Tradition" page.)

The image at the top of the page is a portion of the Mandelbrot set, a well-known example of a fractal. This image was produced from the Julia and Mandelbrot Set Explorer online. I became interested in fractals and non-linear dynamic functions as part of my dissertation research in English literature. When beginning my project, I believed that self-reference and recursion were far more important to our understanding of literary texts than I had seen described in traditional literary criticism, so I began to look into areas in which recursion plays a central role. This foray into chaos theory (where I found the Mandelbrot set) ultimately led me to informatics, cybernetics, and complex systems theory, which together with hermeneutics form the theoretical basis of my work in canonical 19th- and 20th-century poetry and poetics. I use the Mandelbrot set image here both because I find it beautiful and because it represents visually my academic interests (both scholarly and professionally) in the paradoxes of form. I have found that an understanding of complex social systems is invaluable to me both as a classroom teacher and as a leader of educational units.

Last updated 2014-10-12