I enjoy experiments with nontraditional essay structure, and the use of literary devices more commonly associated with poetic form. In general, I’m interested in the effects of formal/performative decisions in communicating—or in failing to communicate—one’s position, identity, or view.
My work at the University of Chicago is interdisciplinary, and I move between English; Creative Writing; the Committee on Theater and Performance Studies; and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. This is reflected in my published works, which include scholarly essays, experimental essays, and personal essays, all preoccupied with racial embodiment.
In my personal essays, I’ve woven my individual history with those of 20th century black heavyweight boxers to consider the themes of race and violence. One of these, “Fight and Flight: The Near Room,” won the S.I. Newhouse School Prize for Nonfiction. Lately I’ve been more invested in experimental forms, and I published the lyric essay “Oroonoko, Called You, An Essay in Three Acts” with a project that collects and interrogates hypothetical performances. I’m also interested in hybridizing literary and scholarly writing, and have recently been working to render a scholarly discussion of dance in poeticized essay form.
Work with Students
I try to expand the literary tools students have at their disposal by introducing a broad array of writers and techniques. My goal is not to make students like what I like (in fact I try not to say what I do or don’t like best); rather I want to help students discover and articulate what they like, and to provide opportunities for experimentation. I have taught writing as part of devised performance art in addition to workshops and technical seminars in lyric essay, personal essay, and memoir.
- August and After: Contemporary Black Drama and Performance
- Technical Seminar: Lyric Nonfiction
- Deadpan: The Aesthetics of Black Inexpression (New York University Press, 2023)
- “Oroonoko, Called You, An Essay in Three Acts.” ImaginedTheatres.com, 3 (2019).
- “The Phantom Punch.”The Appendix 1, no. 2 (April) 2013.
- “Fight or Flight: The Near Room.”Stone Canoe 6: 338–350. 2012.