Since leaving the academy in 2012, I’ve done a lot of work.  The aim of it all? To reclaim my passion for engaging with ideas and my curiosity about the world. To leave a trace for myself and for others of who I’ve been, who I am and who I might become. And to craft a space for living beside and besides the academy–a space that exists somewhere between being disciplined and undisciplined.

Multimedia Stories

  • The Farm (2014) is an interactive story experiment in which I document the difficult process of not forgetting the farm and attempt to create a virtual space where the farm can continue to be imagined and remembered.
  • The unDisciplined Dossier (2015) is a collection of accounts of being educated (student) and an educator (teacher), playfully formatted like an academic dossier.

Interactive Books

  • Memoirs (2013) Prompted by her husband and grandchildren, Ines Puotinen began writing about living on a farm in a small village in the upper peninsula of Michigan. In 2013, I turned those memoirs into an interactive book that combines Ines’s writing with archival material, digital video and an editor’s introduction.
  • Unofficial Student Transcripts (2013). Before expanding my intellectual history to include my teaching life, my unDisciplined dossier started as an interactive book (2013).

Digital Story Projects

  • Digital Stories on Vimeo
  • Home Movies is a series of short digital stories that center on moments and key events/experiences in my family’s life and attempt to trouble and unsettle narratives that are too neat.
  • The Five Senses is an experiment in crafting stories, loosely organized around the theme of taste, touch, hear, see, smell, from old baby footage of my son.
  • Art’s Farm Stories includes five of Art Puotinen’s classic stories about his experiences growing up on a small subsistence farm in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
  • Digital Moments is a series of digital moments documenting my daily practices, shot with an iPhone and edited in iMovie.
  • Love in Fragments is a series of digital stories, crafted from some random bits of footage that I found of my parents,  that document love in fragments, those fleeting moments in which love (in its many forms) is experienced and expressed.

Individual Digital Stories

  • Student Progress Report (2012) is the first digital story I created in which I use my first grade report card to re-image and re-connect with my 7 year old self and to question the purpose of self-discipline.
  • Run (2012) celebrates my first anniversary of running with a digital video documenting my regular run around Lake Nokomis.
  • Home Tour (2013) puts two family home tours, one from a house in West Des Moines (1989) and one from the family farm in Amasa, MI (2000), beside each other to reveal some striking contrasts and parallels between how home, belonging, privacy and memory are articulated and understood.
  • The Gardener (2014) uses old footage of my mom in her garden in 1989 to tell a story about her love of gardening and to replace haunting memories of her as sick and dying from stage 4 pancreatic cancer with visions of her as joyful and vibrant and in her element.
  • Lake Nokomis: A Love Story (2014) is a story about finding home and falling in love with a lake after swimming across it.

Project Trailers

Writing/Researching Blogs

  • trouble (2009-2013) is a blog dedicated to giving serious (careful, intense, playful) attention to what it means to make trouble, be in trouble and stay in trouble. In it explore the ethical and political possibilities for troublemaking in my own work and the work of others. I will gather as many different examples of troublemaking that I can find. And I will critically analyze a variety of discourses and media through the lens of troublemaking.
  • story (2013-2018) is a blog dedicated to tracking, processing, experimenting with and sharing resources on storytelling. It is also a space where I work to cultivate and experiment with my storytelling self, and where I highlight my various story projects.
  • Run! (2017-present) is structured around a daily log of my runs above the Mississippi River Gorge where I record some details of my run and add in reflections on running, reading, writing, thinking, feeling, engaging, surviving (post-2016) and being/becoming. Increasingly it has been about poetry.

Other Experiments

  • Problematizers are an experiment in creating images and texts designed to inspire you to think, question, wonder, reflect, imagine and engage.
  • Marking the Occasion is a experiment in combining my video footage with my mom’s photographs and photo book from our magical summer at the farm in 2002.


In this talk, I explore the possibilities of valuing troublemaking and trouble staying as important virtues.

In this talk, I discuss how I’ve been exploring, struggling with, ruminating on and then responding to the haunting questions that higher education in its current state prompts for so many. The questions, What happened? and What do I do now?, are necessarily historical, political, social and economic questions. But, they are also ethical ones. I’m interested in exploring their implications for the development of my moral selfhood.

One Story,
lots of questions,
some lists,
and an invitation
from an Undisciplined
Feminist Educator

Creative Writing

Since early 2017, I’ve been exploring poetry and creative non-fiction. To read my work, check out my writing portfolio: Sara Lynne Puotinen