Meet our Faculty: Tena L. Helton

Tena L. Helton

English Department ChairHeltonTina

Director of First-Year Writing

Ph.D. English, Louisiana State University

Phone: (217) 206-7441
Office: UHB 3070

Teaching Interests: American literature and film, writing, critical theory, genre theory.

Courses: American Gothic, Early American Literature, Introduction to Poetry, Introduction to Film, American Souths, Poe, Hitchcock, Graduate Colloquium, American Frontier Literature, Rhetoric and College Writing.

Dr. Helton earned her Ph.D. in English, specializing in American literature and Women’s and Gender Studies, from Louisiana State University. She is a certified public school teacher who also holds a B.A. and M.A. from North Carolina State University in English with a concentration in secondary education. She has also been a trade journalist writing for agricultural publications. She joined the UIS faculty in 2005. Her primary areas of expertise are: American literature and culture, genre theory, film, American regional literatures and cultures, and American women’s literature.

Professor Helton has presented papers at the following:

  • North Carolina Symposium on Teaching Writing (2011)
  • American Association of Colleges and Universities (2010)
  • Sloan-C International Conference (2010)
  • Curriculum, Politics, and the Student/Teacher of English (2009)
  • The Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning (2009)
  • Illinois Association of Minorities in Government (2009)
  • The Symbolist Movement: Its Origins and Consequences (2009)
  • Southern Writers Symposium (2009)
  • College English Association (2008)
  • American Studies Association (2007)
  • Illinois Philological Association (2007)
  • South Central Modern Language Association (2003)
  • Southwest/Texas Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (2003)
  • Souths: Global and Local. University of Florida (2001)
  • Women and Gender Studies. Louisiana State University (2000)
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences. North Carolina State University (1999)
  • Blacks in the Diaspora. University of North Carolina (1997)

Her publications include:

  • “What the White ‘Squaws’ Want from Black Hawk: Gendering the Fan-Celebrity Relationship” in American Indian Quarterly (2010)
  • “Being Virtually Human: Teaching Early American Literature Online” in Teaching American Literature: A Journal of Theory and Practice (2007)
  • “Living in Process: Ivy Rowe’s Regional Identification in Fair and Tender Ladies” in South Atlantic Review (2004)
  • “Indians,” “Redneck,” “Tobacco,” and “Trail of Tears” in The Companion to Southern Literature: Themes, Genres, Places, People, Movements, and Motifs (2002)
  • “’What was said and what was left unsaid’: Black Boy as Survival Guide for Black Man and Artist” in College Language Association Journal (1998)
  • over 50 articles in agricultural trade magazines (1993-2004).

Her current project, Autobiography on America’s Frontier, is about the importance of pre-Civil War ethnography and auto/biography to American culture.

Research Interests: American literature, including African-American, American Indian, Southern, Appalachian and Women’s literatures; theories of region, identity, gender, and narrative; film; and composition.

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