Leslee Johnson

HUM 124 Coordinator and Lecturer of English

Contact Information

  • ljohnso5@unca.edu
  • 251-6581
  • 209 Karpen Hall

Office Hours

  • Tuesday 8:30 am - 9:30 am
  • Thursday 8:30 am - 9:30 am
  • Wednesday 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
  • Note: And by appointment


“We work in the dark - we do what we can - we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
― Henry James, The Middle Years

The practice of asking questions and telling stories informs my writing, teaching and everyday life.

After surviving a poet’s life in New York City (lots of odd jobs in bookstores and offices), I found my calling back in Western North Carolina, teaching creative writing to first-generation college-bound, high school seniors, making up stories in an old cemetery and putting together compelling personal narratives for college entrance essays. Since then, I’ve had the honor of teaching philosophy, religion, humanities, literature and writing at public and private colleges. Now, I’m honored to teach writing at UNC Asheville, North Carolina’s public liberal arts university.

Students in my classes can expect to be encouraged to figure out what their questions are, pursue their own inquiries, and respond authentically through a practice of reflection, writing and collaboration.  Given the limits of language, how can we respond honestly to one another about the mystery and beauty we encounter in the world? How can we tell stories that not only say where we’ve been, but hint at a way through, around and beyond for audiences we may never meet? How can we lean into our curiosity and discover something we are compelled to share? How can our choices as writers imbue our stories with the power to reach others and move them to respond in kind?

My research interests involve inquiry, mindfulness, metacognition, story, myth, graphic novels and children’s literature. I am currently at work on Letters to a Young Philosopher, a book of ideas and practices, inspired by my work with college students and a middle school philosophy club, young people who know how to live the big questions with courage and grace.


  • MA, Philosophy and Creative Writing, New York University, Gallatin School, 1999
  • BA, Interdisciplinary Studies (Math, Philosophy and Creative Writing), Mars Hill  University, 1995

Publications and Presentations

  • "Fantastic Foolishness: The Kairos of Sci-Fi Faith in A Wrinkle in Time" presented at The Southeast Conference on Christianity and Literature, Montreat College, 2016.
  • Flight of the Mind: A Painter’s Journey through Paralysis. The 25-year retrospective of the life and work of quadriplegic painter Marcus C. Thomas. Published by Snowy River Ltd, December 2012.
  • Editor: Fearless by Maimah Karmo.  Memoir of the founder of the Tigerlily Foundation, an organization created to support young women with breast cancer. 2016.
  • Editor: The Leadership Muse by Linda Y. Cureton. Business leadership book by the CIO of NASA. 2015.
  • Editor: A Million Fireflies by Mali Phonpadith.  Memoir of a poet and refugee from Laos. 2014.
  • “The Crush of Paradox: Rachel Corrie in the Holy Land” published in  Sightings, the Online Journal of the Martin Marty Center of the University of Chicago, October 2007,
  • “Ring of Gyges Revisited” published in Readings for Character, LAA 121, Mars Hill College, 6th Edition.

Service and Awards

  • Plato's Cafe: Young Philosopher’s Club, In Real Life, Asheville Middle School, 1/2014-5/2016. Facilitator of a philosophy club for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. We meet once a week and discuss topics ranging from time and consciousness to friendship and responsibility with some philosophical background and application of philosophy to everyday life.
  • Mac Bryan Caring Award, Mars Hill College, April 2006. Awarded for excellence and service to the community for work with students, including sponsoring a peace vigil, advising the environmental club, and serving as faculty advisor to The Cadenza, the student literary magazine.