Essays & Criticism


We’re all Jessica Rabbit Now. Self-fashioning for the YouTube generation.” Times Literary Supplement, October 21, 2020.

Time to Get Over Your Discomfort With Book Marketing.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 16, 2020.

Struggling to exercise upward toxicity? Try toxic hypocrisy.” Times Higher Education, September 16, 2020.

How to Learn Everything: The MasterClass Diaries.” Longreads, August 20, 2020. 

What Academics Misunderstand About ‘Public Writing’.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 2, 2020.

Someone is Wrong on the Internet: A Study in Pandemic Distraction.” Literary Hub, June 19, 2020.

Home truths: A dispatch from Germany.” The Times Literary Supplement, April 24, 2020.

The Demon of Distraction.” With Caleb Smith. In the Moment (Critical Inquiry blog), April 22, 2020. 

“O limbă lipită de cerul gurii.” Scena9 2 (2019-20): 192-197. 

Ten rules for succeeding in academia through upward toxicity.” Times Higher Education, November 21, 2019.

“Reading Lessons.” How We Read: Tales, Fury, Nothing, Sound. Eds. Kaitlin Heller and Suzanne Conklin Akbari. Brooklyn: Punctum Books, 2019. 1-11.

“‘Bio-Nazis’ go green in Germany.” Politico Europe, July 12, 2018.

The Kid Is All Right: In Defense of Picky Eating.” Serious Eats, February 13, 2018.

Teachers and Students.” Aeon, February 7, 2018.

An Unreliable Alchemy.” The Marginalia Review of Books, November 10, 2017.

Appetite (and iron-clad stomach) for success. The art of stuffing yourself while chancellor.”, June 17, 2017.

Swan, Late: The Unexpected Joys of Adult Beginner Ballet.Longreads. February 7, 2017.

  • Included in Genia Blum’s “Essays of the Decade,” on Queen Mob’s Review of the Decade, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, December 28, 2019. 
  • Listed among the “Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2017” in The Best American Essays 2018, eds. Hilton Als and Robert Atwan. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.

The Curious Appeal of ‘Bad’ Food.” The Atlantic, August 5, 2016.

  • Reprinted in Best Food Writing 2017, ed. Holly Hughes. New York: Da Capo Press, 2017. 7-12.

‘Frivolous’ Humanities Helped Prisoners Survive in Communist Romania.” Zócalo Public Square, May 25, 2016.

War and the Food of Dreams: An Interview with Cara De Silva.Rumba Under Fire: The Arts of Survival from West Point to Delhi, ed. Irina Dumitrescu. Brooklyn: Punctum Books, 2016. 53-77.

Terpsichore.” Rumba Under Fire: The Arts of Survival from West Point to Delhi, ed. Irina Dumitrescu. Brooklyn: Punctum Books, 2016. 197-199.

The Things We Take, The Things We Leave Behind.” Southwest Review 101.1 (2016): 13-29.

  • Winner of a McGinnis-Ritchie Award for nonfiction from the Southwest Review.
  • Published in Romanian as “Lucrurile pe care le luăm cu noi, lucrurile pe care le lăsăm în urmă,” translated by Iulia Gorzo, in Scena9, September 30, 2019.
  • Featured in Scena9‘s 2019 “Un calendar ilustrat.”
  • Listed among the “Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2016” in Best American Essays 2017, eds. Leslie Jamison and Robert Atwan. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.
  • Nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Dance, Mama.” The Manifest-Station. September 26, 2015.

Why ‘that’ photo mattered this time: Our children could be on that beach, too.” On Parenting for the Washington Post. September 8, 2015.

My Father and the Wine.” The Yale Review 103.2 (2015): 51-64.

  • Reprinted in Wine Reads: A Literary Anthology of Wine Writing, ed. Jay McInerney. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2018. 295-309.
  • Reprinted in The Best American Essays 2016, eds. Jonathan Franzen and Robert Atwan. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 56-68.
  • Nominated for the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, from the James Beard Foundation, March 2016.
  • Translated into Chinese by Chunhui Li. Posted with permission here.
  • Featured in the Longreads roundup Six James Beard Finalists You Might Have Missed: A Reading List
  • Audio version featured in Choice Magazine Listening’s Fall 2015 issue.

On the Future of Old English.” Guest post at In the Middle, January 2014.

Currywurst.” Petits Propos Culinaires 98 (2013): 71-77.

Tasting Texas.” Southwest Review 97.1 (2012): 54-62.

  • Listed among the “Notable Essays of 2012” in The Best American Essays 2013, eds. Cheryl Strayed and Robert Atwan. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

The School’s Embrace.” This Book is a Class Room, eds. Lucie Kolb and Romy Rüegger. Berlin: Passenger Books and HIT, 2012. 43-44.

Hidden Treasures at the Met Museum.” Guest post at In the Middle, July 2009.



How to Read Aloud.” London Review of Books, September 10, 2020.

  • Audio version by Audm

In Praise of Solitude.” Los Angeles Review of Books, June 28, 2020.

  • Featured in Arts and Letters Daily’s New Books section. 

Making My Moan.” London Review of Books, May 7, 2020. 

Dance Macabre.” (In Brief review of What You Become In Flight, by Ellen O’Connell Whittet) The Times Literary Supplement, May 1, 2020.

Dance.” (In Brief review of Isadora, by Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie) The Times Literary Supplement, April 17, 2020.

Quiet magic: The best ways to cultivate good writing.” The Times Literary Supplement (lead cover story), March 6, 2020. 

Theater of War.” The New York Times, February 12, 2020.

Cooking as a profound art.” The Times Literary Supplement, December 20 and 27, 2019.

Heel turns.” The Times Literary Supplement (lead cover story), September 20, 2019.

“Door Open for Beauty: On Deborah Tobola’s “Hummingbird in Underworld: Teaching in a Men’s Prison, a Memoir.” Los Angeles Review of Books, August 2, 2019. 

Renaissance Man.” The New York Times, June 2, 2019.

Physical, cultural, personal: The demands of dance.” The Times Literary Supplement (lead cover story), February 1, 2019.

Old English” (In Brief review of Undoing Babel: The Tower of Babel in Anglo-Saxon Literature, by Tristan Major). The Times Literary Supplement, January 11, 2019. 

Hunger Games: Three Memoirs Where Food Takes Center Stage.” The New York Times, January 6, 2019.

Literature as Lifeline: The Exile in “Call Me Zebra”.” Los Angeles Review of Books, March 18, 2018.


Smaller Contributions

Life in the Zoomiverse: What we miss about the physical campus.” Times Higher Education, April 30, 2020.

Should you be working 100 hours a week?Times Higher Education, February 20, 2020.

Electric conversations: Twenty-five writers reflect on the magazines and journals they have enjoyed over the years.” Times Literary Supplement, October 25, 2019. 

Longreads Best of 2018: Food Writing.

Longreads Best of 2017: Food Writing.

About the Cover.” postmedieval 8.3 (2017): 267–269.

Zócalo’s Summer Book List

(With Berit Andersson) “Research Fellowships in Germany for Scholars in the Humanities.” Guest post at In the Middle, November 8, 2016.

A Place of Absence, Loss, and Transcendence.” Part of a Zócalo Public Square conversation on “Why Libraries’ Survival Matters.” September 29, 2016.

Dancing for Humanity.” fuse. A Tribal & Fusion Belly Dance Magazine 15 (2015): 11-12.