A native New Yorker, I came to Drake in 2005 after completing my Ph.D. in English at Penn State University. At Penn State, I taught business writing courses on campus, online, and in a Lancaster, PA aluminum factory. These days, I more frequently teach courses in nonfiction narrative (including memoir/autobiography and the personal essay), as well as 20th century and contemporary U.S. literature/cultural studies.
I teach various nonfiction writing courses as well as cultural studies and 20th century/contemporary American literature. My interest in these areas grew out of my college experiences; I majored in English, dabbled in sociology and film studies, and worked as an intern and freelancer for music magazines. My time outside academia has also influenced my teaching and research. While working in various corporate environments, I found myself curious about the culture of the business world—everything from mission statements to office naptime policies to popular self-help books about leadership and management. Later, in graduate school, I learned to examine and analyze business culture through a theoretical lens, and wrote a dissertation that became the basis for my 2009 book, The Cultural Work of Corporations (Palgrave Macmillan).
More recently, thanks in part to my experiences talking with Drake students about creative nonfiction, I began thinking about the popularity of memoir and autobiography. My new book, American Autobiography After 9/11 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017), contends that life writing is an important site for negotiating with post-9/11 anxieties about individual and national identity.
When I’m not reading, writing, or grading, I like to spend time with my family and dogs, walk around Des Moines, and watch very, very bad reality television.