John Yu BranscumAssociate Professor of English

Office: 506-H Leonard Hall


  • PhD, Creative Writing and Comparative LiteratureUniversity of Cincinnati, 2010
  • MA, Creative Writing and Linguistics, University of Louisville, 2002

Academic Interests

Appalachian and Southern Literature, Autobiographical Theory, Comparative Literature, Creative Writing (Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction), East Asian Film and Cinema, Epistemology, Fantasy and Horror, Graphic Narrative, Hip-Hop Studies, Multimodal Composition, Narratology, Religious Studies


My teaching, scholarship, and creative works ultimately are concerned with three major, overlapping areas. First, I'm very interested in identity, particularly in how our individual stories and embodied lives complicate and challenge theories, social scripts, and other generalizations. This has its origin in my upbringing in multicultural, migrant laborer communities and my later teaching experiences in China and Costa Rica, and it has led to such work as my Appalachian literary anthology Red Holler, which sought to challenge stereotypes of Appalachia, as well as my poetry collection, Skinwalkers, which sought to do the same, and my editorial and writing work with the international post-punk, fashion, and literary magazine Black & Grey, which is dedicated to exploring mongrel and hybrid identities.

It also deeply inflects how I approach the teaching of writing, particularly via my interest in the montage form of the essay, spiritual writing, and the use of time in narrative. I feel that an understanding of how to recognize and craft narrative is essential to a student's professional and personal life, and I'm committed to working with students to explore their own stories and how their lives are shaped by narrative.

Secondly, a lot of my work is concerned with popular culture, which I find to be a rich staging ground for the exploration of alternative identities, alternative articulations of reality and epistemology, and one that is, moreover, a lot of fun. In this vein, I've published magical realist and horror works in journals ranging from Evergreen Review to North American Review, and scholarly work examining ecological themes in anime and comic books. I routinely use popular culture as a medium in my classes to explore issues significant to students' personal and professional lives.

Finally, all of my work is deeply cross-cultural and interdisciplinary. At the end of the day, I'm a huge believer in the rich insights and sense of wonder that come about through the connections made between diverse areas of knowledge and cultural perspectives, and I am apt to draw upon disciplines ranging from quantum mathematics to anthropology, animal studies, and psychology in my creative work, my scholarship, and my teaching.

Course Specialties

ENGL 121: Humanities Literature: Monsters and Monstrosity
ENGL 122: Introduction to English Studies
ENGL 327: Writing Creative Nonfiction
ENGL 335: Literary Nonfiction