Within the field of English studies, Portia's expertise is in the theory and pedagogy of the teaching of literature. As part of this work, she developed a theoretical model of Engaged Reading to explain how avid readers experience transformation and make meaning of their lives by the reading of literature. Her particular era of study is Early Modern English literature, primarily the works of John Donne and William Shakespeare. She has written on the images of spirituality in the poetry of John Donne, particularly the Holy Sonnets and Songs and Sonnets.
She also maintains a lively interest in integral, transformative, and Christian liberal arts education, both in theory and in practice. Portia is inspired by her students and their passion for reading, writing, and engaging in the world, and exploring God, others, and themselves through great literature. Most of the time, she thinks she has the best job in the world, since she gets to combine her passion for literature, her passion for learning, and her passion for students in every class she teaches.
- Ph.D. in Humanities from California Institute of Integral Studies
- M.A. in English from San Jose State University
- B.A. in English from San Jose State University
- Recently written on John Donne and the blending of images of spirituality and sexuality in his lyrical poetry, both sacred and profane.
- Currently writing a book on the teaching of literature to undergraduates, tentatively titled Reconstructing the Reader: A Pedagogy for Engaged Reading.
- Revising a young adult novel, currently titled Have/Have Not.