M'Balia Thomas

School of Education and Human Sciences - Curriculum & Teaching
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching. Major: Language Use, Minor: Linguistic Analysis, University of Arizona
Primary office:
Joseph R. Pearson Hall, 308
University of Kansas
1122 West Campus Rd
Lawrence, KS 66045


M’Balia B. Thomas, Assistant Professor of TESOL, joined the KU faculty in the fall of 2014. Dr. Thomas holds a PhD from the Interdisciplinary Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching from the University of Arizona. As a Critical Applied Linguist, Dr. Thomas investigates the everyday creativity of non-native and non-standard varieties of American English. She draws upon a variety of qualitative (discourse) approaches—CDA, Conversation Analysis, Corpus Analysis, Rhetorical and Stylistic Analyses, Self-Study, and Narrative Inquiry—to investigate language use as it surfaces in oral and written narratives. Dr. Thomas uses the knowledge and experience gained through her research to lecture on the ways ideologies about language and language users surface through instructional practices, educational texts, and institutional policies.

In her spare time, Dr. Thomas engages in scholarship in the area of Mindful & Contemplative Practices in Higher Education, as well as Harry Potter Studies. Through this latter work she highlights the implications the novels hold for teachers and teacher educators.

Dr. Thomas is active in the Self-Study SIG of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL). She is currently the Publicity Officer for the Poetics & Linguistics Association (PALA).


Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching. Major: Language Use, Minor: Linguistic Analysis, University of Arizona
M.A., Advertising, Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid
A.B., Sociology, with Honors, Stanford University


C&T 896 The Internationalized Curriculum
C&T 818 Language, Discourse and Ideology
C&T 817 Contact, Change & American English
C&T 816 Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
C&T 491/825 TESOL Practicum / Advanced TESOL Practicum
C&T 331 Instructional Approaches to TESOL in Middle/Secondary


Applied Linguistics, Language Use; Harry Potter Studies and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Selected Publications

Thomas, M. (2020). Virtual Teaching in the Time of COVID-19: Rethinking our WEIRD Pedagogical Commitments to Teacher Education [Journal Articles]. Frontiers Journal. Published. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.595574
Thomas, M., & Carvajal, M. (2020). Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in TESOL. [Book Chapters]. In In P. Vinogradova & J. Shin (eds). Contemporary Foundations for Teaching English as an Additional Language: Pedagogical Approaches and Classroom Applications (pp. 91–99). Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/Contemporary-Foundations-for-Teaching-English-...
Thomas, M. (2020). Rendering the Untellable, Tellable: The Cooperative Work of Face in Conversational Storytelling [Journal Articles]. Narrative Inquiry, 30(2), 364–380. https://doi.org/10.1075/ni.18055.tho
Thomas, M. (2019). “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”: Mapping my way through TESOL teacher education [Journal Articles]. Studying Teacher Education. Published. https://doi.org/10.1080/17425964.2019.1580026
Thomas, M. (2018). Trauma, Harry Potter, and the Demented World of Academia [Journal Articles]. Journal of Educational Thought (JET), 51(2), 184–203. https://doi.org/10.11575/jet.v51i2.58452
Thomas, M., Russell, A., & Warren, H. (2018). The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Pedagogy in Harry Potter: An Inquiry into the Personal Practical Knowledge of Remus Lupin, Rubeus Hagrid, & Severus Snape [Journal Articles]. The Clearing House. Published. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00098655.2018.1483152
Thomas, M. (2018). The Girl Who Lived: Exploring the Liminal Spaces of Self-Study Research with Textual Critical Partners [Conference Proceedings]. In Pushing Boundaries and Crossing Borders: Self-Study as a Means for Researching Pedagogy. (pp. 327–333).
Thomas, M. (2018). Harry Potter and the Border Crossing Analogy: An exploration of the instructional use of analogy in a TESOL methods course [Journal Articles]. The Teacher Educator, 53(3), 277–292. https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/utte20/53/3

» Show All Publications

Selected Presentations

Thomas, M., Carneiro, R., & Quirin, A. (8/31/2019). The Great Dumbledore Debate: A Corpus-Stylistic Inquiry into the Epistemic Repertoire of Albus Dumbledore. Poetics and Linguistics Association. University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
Thomas, M., & Carvajal-Regidor, M. (10/31/2018). “Being ‘Lazy’ and Slowing Down” in an Evening Graduate Teacher Education Course". International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Bergen, Norway. https://www.issotl.com/issotl-2018-conference
Thomas, M. (5/31/2018). Popular culture as a vehicle to shared, prior knowledge in an undergraduate teacher education course. The Center for Teaching Excellence Teaching Conference. Lawrence, KS
Thomas, M. (10/2/2017). "Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL): The 'Pragmatism' of Documenting and Assessing Teaching and Learning". Women in Educational Leadership Conference. Lincoln, NE. http://cehs.unl.edu/edad/women-educational-leadership-conference/
Thomas, M., & Fox, M. E. (9/29/2017). "Teaching TESOL Methods through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter". MidTESOL Conference. Kansas City, MO
Thomas, M. (7/31/2017). "Space Invasion: A Text World Appraoch to Exploring Language, Race and Space in 'Bed Intruder'". Special Interest Panel: African and Diasporic Literatures. Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA). West Chester, PA
Thomas, M. (7/29/2016). "Victimization, signification and misrecognition in the deviantly curious case of internet sensation Antoine Dodson". Poetics & Linguistics Society (PALA). Cagliari, Sardinia, Itlaly

Selected Grants

The Dumbledore Corpus. 2330750 099. KU School of Education. $6949.00. Submitted 1/15/2019 (5/15/2019 - 8/31/2020). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
The Greater Good: Engaging with K-12 Content-Based TESOL Methods through the Harry Potter Wizarding World.. $5121.50. (7/1/2017 - 6/30/2018). State of Kansas. Status: Funded
Internationalizing Higher Education for International Student "Success": A study of Metaphor in Short Story Narratives of International Students at a midwest University. $6535.04. Submitted 2/1/2016 (5/15/2016 - 8/31/2017). Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded
Ethnographic Study of Instruction and Assessment within the Citizenship Education Program of a local Religious-based Organization in Kansas City.. $7930.60. Submitted 7/6/2015 (9/1/2015 - 4/30/2017). Thomas, M., Darban, B., & Tonnies, K. (2016, January). "100 Questions & the Quest for Citizenship Ethnographic Data Collection in a Citizenship Education Program in Northeast Kansas". School of Education Research Conference. University of Kansas. Paper Presentation. Thomas, M. Forbush, Duff, Doll. (2017, Sept.). Citizenship Education as Content-Based Instruction (poster presentation). Funding: NFGRF. September 29-30, MidTESOL Conference, Kansas City, MO. Poster Presentation. Krings, M. (01/18/2017). KU researcher, students working with KC-area charities to educate new citizens. KU Today, http://news.ku.edu/2016/12/13/ku-researcher-students-working-kansas-city... Chair, MA Project. Kat Toonies. GRA, Behnaz C&T 825 Specialized Practicum Debby Adams. State of Kansas. Status: Funded
Transgressive Classroom Talk and the Pursuit of a Dialogic Stance in the English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Practicum Observation. School of Education. Submitted 1/1/2015 (5/15/2015 - 12/31/2015). Thomas, M. (2016). A Dialogic Approach to Supervision in the Practicum ATE-K The Advocate. ATE-K, 23(2).. University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded

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