After graduating from Penn, where I majored in English and solidified my liberal values even while living a fraternity lifestyle, I entered law school. There I devoted much of my second and third years to a clinical program that provided legal services to the poor.
Yet I missed English, and so once I became a lawyer and moved to the midwest, I worked part time on a master's degree at the University of Michigan, writing a thesis on Milton's Paradise Lost.
Then came the decision. I had been specializing in appeals, which require a great deal of writing. Often while writing I kept thinking how I would teach what I had figured out. I decided to switch careers, become an English professor, and specialize in composition. I entered a doctoral program at Michigan, where I wrote a dissertation on the academic functions of personal writing.
I love teaching, and try to create assignments that engage the creativity in each of us. I want my students to write reflectively from experiences, their own and others'. In classes on writing about literature, I encourage my students to use writing to misread, so that they might tease out new interpretations.
Many books have moved me. About a dozen rise to the top, including a new historical novel that came out in 2013: Unexploded, by Alison MacLeod.