Selected Essays

A Therapy Love Letter I went to my first shrink under duress, which is perhaps not that remarkable: don’t all therapeutic forays start in moments of duress? In this instance, however, the duress was not mine but my mother’s, who had run out of ideas for how to cope with my increasingly alarming behavior.Read at Dorothy Parker’s Ashes
The Magic of “So What?”“I’m going to ask you a hard question,” I warn my students when we’re talking about writing. “And sort of a mean one.” The students look worried. What am I about to do?Read at Brevity
The Auxiliary Verb of GuiltThe holidays are behind us and with them go the season of “should”: should send holiday cards, should bake festive treats, should go to worship services. Even though the pandemic may have altered some of our plans, I would imagine that for most of us, there were still “shoulds” ringing loud and clear in our minds.Read at Brevity
“You Like to Have Some Cup of Tea?” and Other Questions About Complicity and Place“We need to do more, Mom,” my son tells me. He’s fifteen, supports the Kurdish resistance and fancies himself an anarcho-socialist (“It’s not like being an anarchist, Mom, okay?”). The Young Socialist lives in a state of perpetual indignation about the state of the world.Read at The Common
Witches, Monsters, and Questions of Nation: Humans and Non-Humans in Akata Witch and Trail of LightningMany scholarly considerations of the post- or trans-human in YA fiction concentrate on how technology has altered human society; the novels I discuss here, however, are more concerned with relationships between the human body and the natural world – or whatever is left of the natural world in the aftermath of the destruction caused by climate change.Read at the International Journal of Young Adult Literature
What Would Hannah Gadsby Do?Ever since I watched Nanette, her one-hour comedy show that everyone you know is probably telling you to watch (they’re right; you should), I haven’t been able to get Hannah out of my mind. Read at The Rumpus
Discovering Feminist Students in the Middle EastOver and over during the semester, I heard “you, too?” as students discovered points of connection that bridged their distinct cultural experiences. We all found common cause with Sor Juana, a 17th-century nun from what is now Mexico, who avoided marriage and motherhood by taking religious vows, thus freeing her to write and study. A student from Pakistan remarked wryly that Sor Juana had the right idea because once she became a nun, people probably stopped introducing her to eligible bachelors.Read at The New York Times
How First-Year Comp Can Save the WorldAt least once a semester, I have a conversation that goes something like this: a colleague looks at her students’ essays and moans, “They just can’t write.” When I ask how much class time she spends talking about student writing, I’m told quite sharply that “there is way too much material to cover to spend time on that, so I just give them a handout. I mean, aren’t they supposed to learn this stuff in first-year comp?”Read at Inside Higher Ed
Finding a “teachable moment” in the Kavanaugh HearingsI hadn’t expected the Trump administration to offer me such a golden opportunity—such a ready-made set of evolving “teachable moments”—about power, patriarchy, and privilege, as evidenced in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Read at Motherwell