• Jonathan Liebson

    Office Location:

    Eugene Lang Building


    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:

    BA, Wesleyan University, double-major French Literature and International Politics;

    MA, Modern Literature, University of Kent at Canterbury (UK) Dissertation Title: “The Setting of American Modernism”;

    MFA, Fiction Writing, New York University, Graduate Fellow in Expository Writing.

    Recent Publications:

    • A Body at Rest, Novel. River City Publishing (forthcoming, 2010);
    • Writing Aloud, InterAct Theatre Company: “A Courtship” (short story) selected for staged reading by actor. Philadelphia, PA. Feb. 9, 2009;
    • Ploughshares: Review of Alyce Miller’s Water:Nine Stories. Spring 2008.
    “Monster in the Attic”: Essay and craft exerciseon description, in Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer, ed. Bret Anothony Johnston (Random House). Jan., 2008;
    “From Adam,” short story. Finalist, William Faulkner-William Wisdom Short Story Competition (Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society). 2007.

    Previous Publications and Excerpts Available Online
    “After the Bolsheviks,” short story.Meridian
    “Monster in the Attic”: Essay and craft exerciseon description (in Naming the World)
    • Pleiades: Review of Norman Mailer’s The Spooky Art
    Georgia Review: Essay review of New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best
    • Missouri Review: Review of Eamon Grennan’s Still Life with Waterfall
    • Missouri Review: Review of Richard Russo’s The Whore’s Child