My primary areas of interest are creative writing (particularly fiction), 19th-Century American literature (particularly of the latter half), and contemporary American fiction (particularly short fiction). In my creative writing courses, in addition to instructing my students about the essential elements of fiction (character, point of view, conflict, exposition, scene, dialogue, tone, etc.) and providing them with the appropriate lexicon with which they then can negotiate the trickiness of critiquing each other’s stories, I like to encourage my students to interrogate our culturally inherited assumptions about narrative. What expectations do we as readers bring to narrative form? What significance does narrative have in our culture? What are we doing when we write a story? Why do certain narratives satisfy us while others do not?
In my literature courses, I strive to provide a thorough analysis of the sociohistorical context from which a piece of writing emerges. Not to do so is to deny the inextricable relationship that exists between a cultural production and the world around it. I pay particular attention to the manner in which literary works reflect/inform a time period’s attitudes concerning issues of race, class, and gender.
- B.A., University of Texas – Austin
- M.F.A., Texas State University – San Marcos
- Ph.D. SUNY Buffalo
Other Professional Activity
As a fiction writer, I have been published in such literary journals as Fiction, The Southern Review, Five Chapters, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Story Quarterly, Quarterly West, Upstreet, Blue Mesa Review, and Third Coast, to name only a few. Recently, my play The Ugly Past, received a workshop production during Philadelphia Theatre Workshop’s Fourth Annual PlayShop Festival. As a scholar, I have published book chapters and articles on such topics as the representation of suicide in 19th-Century American fiction, Rebecca Harding Davis’s Life in the Iron Mills, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain and Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels. I also regularly review fiction for The Philadelphia Inquirer.