Tara Star Johnson
Director of English Education
Ph.D., University of Georgia, 2005
Tara Star Johnson is Associate Professor of English Education, with joint appointments in the Departments of English and Curriculum & Instruction. She works primarily with pre-service English teachers at the undergraduate level. She is currently Director of English Education, and she is also serving a five-year term as coeditor of English Education, a peer-reviewed quarterly publication of the National Council of Teachers of English.
Professor Johnson’s research trajectory includes two separate but related phases; though topically distinct, they share a common theme of social justice in education. Her early-career focus was on sexual dynamics in the classroom, resulting in a book and multiple journal articles stemming from three studies. The first examined how pre-service English teachers dealt with issues of embodiment in their classrooms; the second analyzed how and why secondary teachers “crossed the line” by having a sexual relationship with a student; and the third investigated the racial and community dynamics at work in a South Carolina school district plagued by three incidents of sexual misconduct. Though this body of scholarship still informs Professor Johnson’s teaching, her research has taken a deliberate turn toward the scholarship of engagement. Deeply concerned about the current state of k-12 education, she is studying the process and politics behind the development of standards and high-stakes assessment in Indiana and writ large. She hopes to be of service to the beleaguered teachers and administrators with whom she has cultivated both research and teaching relationships by demystifying the policy climate affecting their schools.