Burns Cooper

I have been at UAF since 1990.  It seems like only yesterday. . .  .


I have (at least) two passions: linguistics and poetry.

 I teach courses about the English language, such as the History of the English Language, Modern English Grammar, and Varieties of English, plus courses about language in general, such as Phonetics and Phonology, and Forensic Linguistics.

 I also teach courses about literature, such as Modern American Poetry, Contemporary Scottish Poetry, Versification, Old and Middle English Poetry, and the survey of older British Literature (approximately the first thousand years).


 I don't subscribe to a named theory of pedagogy, but I have a few basic beliefs that guide my teaching:

1) Students have at least as much effect on what gets learned as professors do;

2) Learning can be fun, even exciting;

3) Collaborative learning with other students is good;

4) Hands-on active learning is best, but sometimes reading and memorization are needed to make it possible;

5) College courses are meant to be challenging--not impossible, but challenging;

6) Logic, facts, and attention to detail matter.


In recent years, I've been working in forensic phonetics and sociophonetics.  I am so excited about these areas that I actually went back to grad school in 2011-12 to earn a Master of Science degree in Forensic Speech Science.  (It was an interesting experience to be a full-time student again--and in another country, to boot!)  My MSc dissertation (based on the Newcastle "Geordie" dialect) had to do with the significance of speech rate in speaker identification.   Currently, a colleague and I are slowly trying to piece together a survey of the phonology of the English spoken by Alaskans, to create baseline data for further research. 

I have also published on non-phonetic aspects of forensic linguistics: specifically, taboo language in courtroom discourse, and forensic applications of propositional density.

On the more literary end of things, I have written on linguistic poetics (including a book, Mysterious Music: Rhythm and Free Verse, and the entries on "The Foot" and "Free Verse" in the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics).  I've also written literary analysis of poetry, and publish original poetry from time to time. 


I am available for consulting on forensic issues such as speaker comparison, questioned utterance analysis, transcription of difficult recordings, and other issues to do with voice evidence.   For fairly small jobs I typically work pro bono, as part of my UAF community service.

 Personal trivia:

I play clarinet in the nation's farthest-north Klezmer band, Almost a Minyan.

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