Shannon Lakanen

Shannon Lakanen


Towers 228

Department of English

Shannon Lakanen is an essayist and professor in Otterbein’s English department and Integrative Studies program. She grew up in a working-class family in northern Florida and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. At Otterbein, she teaches writing courses in personal essay and memoir, and production courses in podcasting and digital literature for the English department. She has developed several different Integrative Studies courses for first-year students focusing on critically and creatively exploring memory and memoir, living with intentionality, and reflecting on the personal narratives in the digital age.

She also team-teaches, with Dr. Anthony DeStefanis of the History Department, the Integrative Studies seminar on the History and Literatures of the Vietnam War, as well as the Art of Travel Senior Year Experience course with travel to Vietnam and Cambodia (and in collaboration with Dr. Janice Glowski in the Art Department, to Thailand). Even though she isn’t supposed to have favorites, her most beloved class to teach is Otterbein’s Creative Writing Across Genres course, which introduces students to studying the art of creative writing through experimentations in poetry, fiction, essay, and playwriting.

In central Ohio prisons, community organizations, short-term appointments at US and international institutions, she has taught courses in poetry writing, memoir writing, literature & gender, adaptation (short story/novel to film), travel writing, literature of war, and literature of incarceration.


  • Ph.D. English – Creative Nonfiction Writing, Ohio University, 2002
  • M.A. English – Poetry Writing, Florida State University, 1997
  • B.A. English – Creative Writing, University of Tampa, 1995

Research, Creative, & Professional Work

  • Personal essay & memoir writing
  • Literature of war (specifically, the US war in Vietnam and the late 20th-c. Yugoslav wars)
  • Arts & literature created inside and about US prisons
  • Podcasting & digital media
  • Contemporary essay, fiction, & poetry
  • Publications

  • Dr. Lakanen's creative and scholarly work has been published in:
  • The Essay Review (2020)
  • LIT Magazine (2020)
  • The Nasiona (2019)
  • After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays (U Georgia, 2015)
  • Tusculum Review (2011)
  • Fourth Genre (2008)
  • Quarter After Eight (2004)
  • North Dakota Quarterly (2003)
  • She has been invited to present her creative and scholarly work and/or teach at:
  • The War Art, Reportage, & Memory Festival (Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina)
  • Association of Writers & Writing Programs
  • Nonfiction Now
  • College English Association of Ohio
  • National Council Teachers of English
  • Paging Columbus & Writer's Ink
  • Worthington & Westerville Public Libraries
  • Affiliations & Awards

  • Awards
  • 2021 Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund Grant from the U.S. Department of State funded the development of an online cartographic platform integrating reflective personal storytelling, visual art, and music created by Fulbright alumni.
  • 2020 Essay Review Prize for "In Defense of Whimsy: A. A. Milne's Personal Essays."
  • 2013 Summer Visiting Professor position to teach adaptation literature at Duksung University in Seoul, S Korea.
  • 2009 Traditional Fulbright Scholar Award from the U.S. Department of State to teach creative writing at University of Podgorica in Montenegro.
  • 2007 New Faculty Teaching Award for outstanding teaching in the first three years of service at Otterbein University.
  • Affiliations
  • Ohio Prison Arts Coalition
  • Association of Writers & Writing Programs
  • American Association of University Professors
  • Fulbright Scholar Program