Clinical Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies
MFA, Columbia University - School of the Arts, Nonfiction Writing
BA, Cornell University - College of Arts and Sciences, English Literature
Areas of Interest: Literary Essay; Criticism; Experimental Translation
Course(s) Taught: Writing I: The Writer, the World, and the Text; Writing II: The Autodidact in the Academy; Creative Writing: Places; Cultural Foundations III; The Artist-Critic: Imaginative Approaches to Theory; Dean's Circle: Make It New! International Modernisms and the 1913 Armory Show
- Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environmental Nonfiction Award (2014)
- NYU - Chair of the Liberal Studies Writing Curriculum Committee (AY 2011-2012 and 2012-2013)
- NYU - Liberal Studies Research Grant
- Columbia University - Undergraduate Writing Program Teaching Fellowship
- Columbia University - School of the Arts Writing Fellowship
The main goal of my courses is to equip students to delve into problems, questions, and mysteries with curiosity and grace. If grace isn’t possible, vigor is a fine substitute. I also focus on helping students avoid some of the pitfalls of academic writing (pitfalls into which scholars themselves often tumble) and become more independent, flexible, incisive, and self-aware thinkers, readers, and writers.
As far as I’m concerned, while it might promote a certain kind of discipline and is certainly essential to law, ethics, and the sciences, the thesis- or argument-driven essay generally works against undergraduate education. The purpose of undergraduate studies is not to reach or express certainty, but rather to become more conscious—of everything from public events to personal experiences to art to texts—and attuned to subtleties, as well as more intimate with the ideas that shape and explain our world.
In my courses, knowing what we think, supporting an argument, and having big ideas take a backseat to using writing to explore difficult problems, complicated questions, and deep mysteries—and presenting nuanced ways of thinking about what we read and observe. I’ve found that students who think, read, and write with attention to small but meaningful details and an ability to make connections between disparate subjects are better equipped to construct compelling arguments when the need arises.
I know a lot about writing—which is to say, I know and can articulate what I value in writing. But my role is not to simply transfuse that knowledge or indoctrinate my students. In a discipline as practice-dependent as writing, I couldn't hand everything over even if I wanted to. I do, though, provide students with opportunities to work on discrete elements of their writing, take risks, and become more skilled at revising their own work. Their peers offer extensive feedback—and so do I. All goes well when by the end of the semester, I become unnecessary to the enduring work and pleasure of improving one’s capacity to think, read, and write incisively.
Usciolu. Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. February 2015.
Attempts to Control Time. Guernica. February 2011.
Where There’s Smoke. Guernica. December 2010.
Teardrops in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Guernica. October 2011.
With Their Heads in Their Hands. Guernica. May 2010.
Seeing in Stereo. Guernica. December 2009.
The Infinite in the Infinitesimal. Guernica. July 2009
In Praise of Failure. Guernica. May 2009.
Calypso Awakenings. Guernica. March 2009.
Twin Peeks. Guernica. February 2009.
Roll Deep: An Interview with Luc Sante. Guernica. August 2008.
When Rasmussen Was King. Guernica. September 2007.
Why Does Violent, Misogynist, Greed-Promoting Music Have to Sound So Good? Guernica. May 2007.
Employment Dimensions of Reentry: Understanding the Nexus Between Prisoner Reentry and Work. Summary report written for The Urban Institute. Washington, DC. June 2003.
Serving Incarcerated and Ex-Offender Fathers and Their Families: A Review of the Field. Co-authored report written for the U.S. Department of Justice and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation on behalf of the Vera Institute of Justice. February 2001.