About Me

I’m an English professor at the University of Delaware—where I teach academic writing, critical reading, creative nonfiction, and digital writing. Before coming to Delaware, I taught similar courses at Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh, and also worked with beginning teachers of writing. Whatever course I teach, my aim is always to help students write in their own voices about texts and ideas that matter to them.

Most of my own writing grows out of my work as a teacher. My 2006 Rewriting offers advice on how to make generous and assertive use of the work of others in your own writing. And my 1997 A Teaching Subject is a history of the teaching of writing in American colleges. (An updated edition of this book came out in 2012.) I’ve also edited books about teaching writing and writing about popular culture, and I’m now at work on a book about how the teaching of writing has been depicted in recent movies and novels.

I grew up in Philadelphia, in a working-class, Irish-Catholic home, went to parochial schools there, and then earned a BA from Haverford College and a PhD from New York University. I like dogs, books, movies, music, chess, minor league baseball, and talking  with friends. My wife Pat is a non-profit administrator, my daughter Kate teaches American history, and my daughter Mora is an actress and writer.  Pat and I live with two big and happy mutts, Rocky and Lois, in a small and old house in New Castle, Delaware.