Over the last 30 years I’ve centered my career on teaching academic writing and working with other writing teachers. From 1999 to 2009, I was the founding director of the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University—an independent, multidisciplinary program recognized for its approach to teaching writing as a form of intellectual inquiry. I’m now an associate professor of English at Duke—where I teach academic writing, critical reading, creative nonfiction, and digital writing. Whatever course I teach, my aim is 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. In 2010 I co-edited a collection of essays on Teaching with Student Texts. My 2006 Rewriting offers advice on how to make generous and assertive use of the work of others in your own writing. And in 1997 I wrote A Teaching Subject, a history of the teaching of writing in American colleges. (An updated edition of A Teaching Subject appeared in 2012.) 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. Before coming to Duke, I directed the composition program at the University of Pittsburgh. 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 an old house in Durham.