Degrees

Modern Culture and Media, Brown University (2012), Ph.D.
Modern Culture and Media, Brown University (2008), M.A.
Oberlin College (2006), B.A.

Research

I specialize in contemporary documentary media cultures, with a special emphasis on the ethical quandaries and political possibilities that accompany the practice of producing constructions of reality. My early writings, including my award-winning first book , focused on the humanitarian sentiments driving the impulse of "giving voice" to disenfranchized subjects, from hurricane survivors to at-risk children, in a range of participatory documentary projects. My current research uncovers how documentary forms teach us how to listen, and how those listening practices shape normative ideas about justice, objectivity, and access; this research will soon be published in the form of a book titled The Documentary Audit.  

My research and teaching have been funded by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Whiting Foundation, and the Copeland Postdoctoral Fellowship at . I also work closely with many documentary publications, film festivals, and media arts organizations. I am one of the series editor for the documentary book series at Columbia University Press, and served as Board President for the .

My research interests include disability studies, sound and auditory culture studies (including "accent studies" - a field that I have been working to constitute), and critical prison studies; many of my recent publications bring these research interests to bear on the study of emerging documentary trends, including the phenomenal popularity of , , and . Some of my recent publications appear below, and a full list can be seen on . 

Those of you who, like myself, speak and listen with an accent, might be interested in looking at an anthology of essays that I coedited titled (available to read as a free PDF or ebook online). I am also working on a book that explores the role of documentary in the history and contemporary practice of prison abolition, with the collaboration of critical prison scholar and filmmaker Brett Story.

If you are contemplating doing a thesis in Film and Media Studies and English that relates to any of these topics, please come speak with me! 

Teaching

My teaching spans the areas of media studies and critical theory, with a special focus on documentary culture, as it intersects with and opens onto questions of voice, listening, accent, carcerality, and disability. My classes are often organized around a central question or contradiction, such as: “Why does documentary take itself so seriously?” or “What needs to be abolished—not just canceled—in our media environment in order for us to imagine a world without prisons?” I often find that provocations such as these open up revealing insights regarding contemporary media forms and the flows of power in neoliberal times.

Some of the seminar classes that I teach regularly include “The Documentary Impulse,” “The Confession,” “The Queerness of Children” (First Year Seminar), and “Disability Media.” I regularly teach “Coming to Terms: Media” (a course introducing critical keywords and frameworks for the study of media) and co-teach integrated theory-practice courses with my colleagues in Film and Media Studies. Before coming to Amherst, I taught at the New School in New York, where, in addition to courses on confessional media and documentary, I developed classes on topics such as humanitarian intervention, ethnographic film, and critical methods in cultural studies. These remain persistent themes in the courses I teach at Amherst.

In Fall 2023 I will be teaching the 200-level course “Coming to Terms: Media” and in Spring 2024 I will offer my 100-level course "True Crime: Unlearning Media." Both courses are especially appropriate for freshmen and sophomores, and have no pre-requisites. 

Recommendation Letters

Please note that I require at least 3 weeks (ideally a month) of lead time to write a persuasive and well-researched letter of recommendation. Plan ahead and contact me well ahead of time! I will need you to send me your resume/CV and a copy of all of your application materials, including cover letter and personal statements, if required. If you need me to submit multiple letters over the course of an application season, I always appreciate a spreadsheet with due dates and submission links. It's always helpful to have a conversation with me ahead of time to strategize about your applications and to determine who will be able to write the strongest letters for you. 

Selected Publications

; Click  for accessible PDF.

 - 2019 ACLA Harry Levin Best First Book Prize, Finalist, 2018 ASAP Book Prize


More information, including recent publications, honors, forthcoming talks, and curriculum vitae, available at .