Meet our Faculty: Dr. Tena Helton

Tena HeltonDr. Tena Helton

English Department Chair, Faculty Associate/Provost’s Office
Ph.D. English, Louisiana State University

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

Teaching Concentration: American literature and culture; genre theory; film; writing; teaching literature

Courses Taught: American Gothic; American Souths; Early American Autobiography; Frontier in Early American Literature; Poe; Hitchcock; American literature surveys; Introductory Courses in Literary Genres; Video Games and Gaming; First-Year Writing; Teaching Literature


  • CLAS Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching


  • “From Beijing Story to Their Story: Adaptation and Stanley Kwan’s Lan Yu.” Co-authored with Lan Dong. Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance 7:2 (2014): 139-53.
  • “What the White ‘Squaws’ Want from Black Hawk: Gendering the Fan-Celebrity Relationship.” American Indian Quarterly 34:4  (2010): 498-520.
  • “Being Virtually Human: Teaching Early American Literature Online.” Teaching American Literature: A Journal of Theory and Practice 1:2 (2007).
  • Entries in The Companion to Southern Literature: Themes Genres, Places, People, Movements, and Motifs. Eds. Joseph M. Flora and Lucinda Mackethan. Baton Rouge:  LSU Press, 2002.


Dr. Helton earned her Ph.D. in English, specializing in American literature and Women and Gender Studies. She also holds a B.A. and M.A. from North Carolina State University in English wit h a concentration in secondary education. She has been a certified secondary teacher in the state of North Carolina. 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, regionalism, and genre theory.

“Good teaching and good learning provides students with access to power. My classroom practices and my overall goals are to empower students within and outside the classroom.”