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  • Faculty

  • Jonathan Liebson

    Part-Time Faculty


    Office Location
    B - Eugene Lang College Building - 65 West 11th Street

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    Jonathan Liebson


    Whether in academic essays, expository essays using personal experience, or fiction, I strongly agree with what Annie Dillard states in The Writing Life—that when you write you “lay out a line of words,” but that the writing itself inevitably “digs a path you follow.” This concept means surrendering control to what the words, what someone’s dialogue, or what a particular character might reveal to us in the moment. It means writing essays in which you allow yourself to break free of your outline, because the writing process itself has suddenly taken you in a new and more interesting direction. I hold this as one of the great pleasures, and rewards, of the hard work involved in any form of writing.

     In my first-year writing courses, my themes and syllabi often draw from my interest in short fiction, narrative essays, and Modernist literature. As a writer who also has a background in literature, I very much hold close-reading as essential in making us better writers and thinkers. When our job is to write academic essays, the writing process begins not when we put our pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), but when we’re marking a text and trying to account for our own ideas in the words we put in the margins. It’s messy, time-consuming work—and essential in guiding our thinking even before we head into a draft.

    Degrees Held

    Wesleyan University.  B.A. in French Literature and International Politics

    University of Kent at Canterbury (UK).  M.A. in Modern Literature.  Dissertation: “The Setting of American Modernism”

    New York University.  M.F.A. in Fiction Writing.  Graduate Fellow in Expository Writing

    Recent Publications


    To view the following work,

    • “Second Avenue Elevated.” Personal essay/memoir about father’s childhood in New York City in the 1940s and ’50s, my grandfather’s drugstore in Midtown, and the subways and baseball players of his day.  Tablet Magazine.  8/29/19.

    • “Alice Murno’s Dance of the Happy Shades, Fifty Years Later.”  Essay on the early feminism in the Nobel Prize writer’s first story collection, and the book’s continued relevance today.  The Atlantic Magazine.  1/3/19. 

    • Review of A.D. Jameson’s I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture.  The Washington Post Sunday Book World.  6/3/18.

    Review of Clinton Crockett Peters’s Pandora’s Garden: Kudzu, Cockroaches, and Other Misfits of Ecology.  The Texas Observer.  4/26/18.

    Review of Stuart Kells’s The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders.  Chicago Review of Books.  4/17/18.

    Essay review of The World Split Open: Great Authors on How and Why We Write.  Georgia Review.  Spring 2015.

    Review of Michael Cunningham’s The Snow Queen.  Time Out New York.  May 29, 2014.

    Review of Lorrie Moore’s Bark.  Time Out New York.  March 5, 2014.

    Review of Yu Hua’s Boy in the Twilight.  Time Out New York.  Feb. 5, 2014.

    Review of Alice McDermott’s Someone.  Time Out New York.  October 9, 2013. 

    “Best West Village Parks to Read In.”  Photographic essay in Time Out New York.  August 14, 2013. 

    Review of Bill Cheng’s Southern Cross the Dog.  Time Out New York.  May 29, 2013. 

    Review of Ben Greenman’s The Slippage.  Time Out New York.  May 1, 2013. 

    Review of Jake Silverstein’s Nothing Happened, and Then It Did.  Fiction Writers Review. Sept. 2, 2010.

    Review of Skip Horack’s The Southern Cross: Stories.  American Book Review.  Jan./Feb. 2010.

    Review of Alyce Miller’s Water: Nine Stories.  Ploughshares.  Spring 2008.

    “Monster in the Attic”: Essay and craft exercise on role of description and setting, in Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer, ed. Bret A. Johnston (Random House).  Jan., 2008.


    Performances and Appearances


    Honorable Mention in the New York Center for Photographic Arts competition "Urban Landscabes, Suburban Scenes, Rural Impressions" (Summer, 2018).

    Exhibited photography at the group showing Let There Be Light (and Shadow) at Umbrella Arts Gallery, on E. 9th St., NYC, through March 3, 2018.


    Current Courses

    Writing the Essay I
    LFYW 1000, Fall 2021

    Future Courses

    Writing the Essay II
    LFYW 1500, Spring 2022

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