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Going Rogue.

One hot summer morning in Baltimore in the late 1940s, Dr. Robert Lindner, chief of psychological services for the Maryland Department of Corrections and a psychoanalyst in private practice, received an unusual telephone call from aphysician at a classified government installation in New Mexico. The doctor was calling about a patient whom he wanted to send to Baltimore; only Dr. Lindner, he believed, was qualified to help this talented but troubled young man. The patient, whom Lindner called “Kirk Allen” in a subsequent case study, was a research scientist whose strange behavior while working in a high-security government post had begun to alarm his superiors Specifically, Allen had been covering the margins of his government reports with odd, hieroglyphic-like symbols. When questioned by Lindner about the bizarre inscriptions, Allen revealed that he was “Lord of an interplanetary empire in a distant universe” far in the future. “I have crossed the immensities of space, broken out of time,” his patient replied, explaining that the odd symbols were notes, written in the language of his home planet, taken during his galactic explorations. Read More. Baltimore Style, October 2017

Junkie in the Joint.


When I first got to college, the excitement of my new independence led me to experiment with a changed-up self-image. Before long I’d settled on a punk-Goth look. This involved a beaten-up black motorcycle jacket worn over a sweater with the collar and sleeves torn out, a skirt ripped to midthigh, fishnet tights, eight-hole Doc Martens boots, and dirty white-lace gloves with the fingers cutoff. My hair, crimped to death, was part blond, part pink. My gutter chic was seriously out of place in Oxford’s cloisters and croquet lawns, which was precisely the point. I was secretly flattered when one afternoon, on arriving at an English faculty get-together, I was handed a glass of wine by my tutor, who announced, “I’m sorry, my dear, we don’t have any syringes.”Chronicle of Higher Education July 23 2016. Read More.

Sex, Lies, and Literature: Learning from Mr. Hyde.


One of my first academic positions was as a visiting professor at a large university in the Midwest. Among my other responsibilities, I supervised 11 PhD students in the planning and teaching of a multi-section course called Major Figures in Western Literature. Each semester, the students had to select an archetypal character (such as the Lover, the Outsider, or the Fool) around which to base their readings. When I supervised the course, the character they chose was the Imposter. As the epigram for the syllabus, they chose a line from Oscar Wilde’s 1891 essay “The Truth of Masks”: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” The American Scholar, October 27, 2016. Read More.

Jane Austen’s Ivory Cage


When I was working on my doctorate at Oxford, I lived in a large Victorian house with about 10 other students. My room was on the ground floor at the back; in the room above me lived a Canadian woman named Lenore—after the “rare and radiant maiden” in Poe’s “The Raven,” she once told me, though her mail was addressed to Margaret. She wore square, black-framed glasses, lots of lipstick, and old-fashioned lace-up boots. Though she was straight, she had what was generally considered to be a lesbian haircut (shorn at the sides and thick on top), and she was also impressively tech-savvy. One evening, she announced that she was going to the computer room to “log on,” a phrase literature students didn’t often utter in 1992. The American Scholar, May 9 2015. Read More.

Under the Spell of a Name


A palm reader once told me I was going to marry a man named Andrew. I guess it could still happen, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. I have been married once and it wasn’t pretty. I have no plans to let it happen again, though if it does, odds are it won’t be to an Andrew. In the year of my birth, the most popular baby boy’s name was Michael; the second most common was David (my father’s first two names are Michael David). David stayed in the top five until 1987. At my school there were so many Davids, I almost felt as though “Dave” was another word for boy, just as “Sue” meant girl. At college, Daves remained plentiful. My immediate social group included three. To make things less confusing, I picked up the macho habit — common among my male friends — of referring to them by their last names: Bilton, Priestman and Finn. When Priestman and I became a couple, I was so used to calling him by his last name that I continued to do so for the two and a half years we were together, even when we were on our own. Names are like magic spells: They work on us unconsciously. Some seduce us with their loveliness; others are warning signs that say, “Watch out, here comes heartbreak.” Modern Love, New York Times, November 13, 2014. Read More.

Lusty Ladies and Naughty Dogs


In the arms of a fashion icon like Paris Hilton or Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, there’s no doubt that a well-dressed lapdog can be a charming fashion accessory. Yet older ladies who are inseparable from their little dogs, such as 84-year-old gossip columnist Cindy Adams, or socialite Leona Helmsley, who left $12 million to her lapdog in her will, generally seem absurd. Older women with lapdogs, according to popular opinion, are privileged, fussy, and indolent (as opposed to cat ladies, who are stereotypically disordered and unkempt). Psychology Tomorrow, October 14, 2014. Read More.

Seeking a Glamorous Gertrude.


“If you will call a dog Hervey,” said the English author Dr. Johnson, “I shall love him.” This quirky adage was meant to praise the unconventional Hervey family, whom Dr. Johnson found excellent company, but he also put his finger on an important truth, which is that the magic of a name doesn’t lie in the name itself, but in those who bear it. It’s the owners of the name that give it a glamorous aura, which is then passed on to others, even if they happen to be a dog. Like all magic spells, names must be spoken to take effect, and the more often we hear them, the stronger the power of their magic. Take, for example, my grandmother’s name: Edna. As a magic spell, Edna is quite dead. We rarely hear it spoken, and for this reason, most people would say the name sounds harsh and ugly. The abrasive “d” and “n” in the middle feel particularly unpleasant.  Nameberry, February 17, 2015. Read More.



Psychoanalysis & the Paranormal

Whereof One Cannot Speak: Conducting Psychoanalysis Online, Psychoanalytic Review, 99.1 Feb 2012, pp 19-34.
Psychoanalysis, Resistance, and Telepathy Kakar and Kripal, eds., Seriously Strange, Viking, NY 2012.
Psychoanalysis and Magic: Then and Now, American Imago, Volume 66 no. 4, Winter 2009, pp 471-489.
The Company Man: A Case of White Collar Crime, American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2009, 69, pp 121-135.
Ted Serios and Psychic Projections, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 20, 2011.
Shrinking City, Baltimore Style, 28 Dec 2010
Psychic Styles: Fashions in Metaphysical Media, Thought Catalog, 28 Dec 2010
The Influencing Machine and Technophobia, h+ magazine, August 5 2010
Valley of the Dogbots of War, h+ magazine, January 15 2010
The Two Freuds, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 09, 2004.
The Quick (to Make a Buck) and the Dead, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 21, 2003

Higher Education & Literature

True Crime and Academe, (with Tom Doherty), Chronicle of Higher Education, September 24, 2012.
Spelling Matters
, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 15, 2012.
What About Ogden Nash? Baltimore Style, December 2011
Tackling Texts Alone, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 23, 2011.
The Not-So-Golden State, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 02, 2011.
Search Committee Etiquette, Inside Higher Ed, February 12, 2010
Trusting the Amateurs, Inside Higher Ed, June 22, 2009
No More Fancy Fonts, Inside Higher Ed, December 10, 2009.
Learning to Hate Learning ObjectivesChronicle of Higher Education, December 13, 2009.
Taking Comics Seriously, PopMatters, 20 March 2008
Has Reading Really Made You a Better Person? PopMatters, July 9, 2008
Nutty Professors, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16, 2005.
Teachers’ Pets, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 09, 2004.
Sometimes Courses Can’t be ‘Enjoyable’, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 01, 2003
The Scholar Who Found a Life’s Work in Dirty Jokes, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 12 2002.

Critical Theory & Cultural Studies

The Love That Dare Not Bark Its Name, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 08, 2014
How to Remove the Guilt from ‘Guilty Pleasures’, PopMatters, 6 April 2008
You Can Always Watch the Movie, PopMatters, May 13 2008
Is The Internet a Portal to Hell? Bad Subjects, December 2005
When Good Plants Go Bad, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 12, 2008.
Debauchery Next Door: The Boundaries of Shame in Abigail’s Party, QRFV 24:4, July 2007, 317-323.
Ritual, Tension, and Relief: The Terror of The Tingler, Film Quarterly, 50.4. Summer 2007, pp 2-10.
Is The Internet a Portal to Hell? Bad Subjects, December 2005
Touching the Void in Our Lives, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 13, 2004.
The Two Freuds, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 09, 2004.
The Quick (to Make a Buck) and the Dead, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 21, 2003
The Scholar Who Found a Life’s Work in Dirty Jokes, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 12 2002.
Risus Sardonicus: Neurotic and Pathological Laughter, Humor 15-4 2002, 401-417.
Apocalypse in Suburbia, Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, Fall 2003, 3, 8-12.
The End of the Road: Cronenberg’s Crash, Literature/Film Quarterly, 30.2, 2002, 126-132.
Allegory and Enigma: Fantasy’s Enduring Appeal (with David Sterritt), Chronicle Higher Ed, Dec 21 2001.
Celluloid Cannibals that Feed Our Darkest Fears, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 02, 2001
Everybody Loves Somebody: The A&E “Rat Pack” Biographies, Biography 23.1 Winter 2000, pp 160-175.

“The Last Stop of Desire: Covent Garden and the Spatial Text of Consumption,” Consumption, Markets, and Culture, Vol. 1 Issue 1, 1997, p45-79.
Paradigms of Desire in Pornography, Ethics and the Subject, ed. Karl Simms, Rodopi Press, Jan 1997, p203-217.
Return of the Freakshow: Carnival (De)Formations in Culture, Studies in Popular Culture, 18.2. 1996, p89-107

Joyful mayhem Bakhtin football songs and the carnivalesque, Text and Performance Quarterly, 14:4, 1994, 289-304,
Bakhtin and Popular Culture, New Literary History, 23.3, Summer 1992, pp 765-782

Book & Film Reviews

Can We Take a Joke? dir: Ted Balaker, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 5 2016.
The White Devil, Matthew Beresford, London (2013), Chronicle of Higher Ed, Nov 25, 2013.
A Decade of Dark Humor Ed. Gournelos and Greene, U Press of Mississippi, Chronicle of Higher Ed Feb 12 2012.
The End: An Electric Sheep Anthology, Virginie Selavy, Cineaste, 37.1 Winter 2011.
My Dog Tulip: A Dog Film That’s Actually About A Dog, Chronicle of Higher Education, 14 November 2010
Sway, Zachary Lazar, Little, Brown, NY. PopMatters, 18 March 2008
The Executioner’s Bible, Steve Fielding, John Blake, London. PopMatters, 30 January 2008.
Sleaze Artists, Jeffrey Sconce, Duke University Press, PopMatters, 12 January 2008.
The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq, trans Frank Wynne. Sexuality & Culture, 2008, 12: 186-188.
The Gothic, Gilda Williams, MIT Press, PopMatters, December 2007
The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena, Bob Rickard and John Michell, Penguin, PopMatters, 11.Sep.07
The Red Parts, Maggie Nelson, Free Press, PopMatters, 3.Sep.07
Hotel Theory, Wayne Koestenbaum, Soft Skull, PopMatters, September 2007
The Evolving Brain, R. Grant Steen, Prometheus, PopMatters 28.Aug.
Becoming Eichmann, David Cesarani, Da Capo, PopMatters25.Jul.07
Interfictions, Delia Sherman and Theodora Goss, Small Beer Press, PopMatters 16.Jul.07
Tabloid Prodigy Marlise Elizabeth Kast, Running Press, PopMatters 5.Jul.07
Contemporary Gothic, C. Spooner (Reaktion) &  Goth, ed. Bibby & Goodlad, Duke U Press, Chronicle of Higher Ed, June 15 2007.
New Cultural Studies, Gary Hall and Clare Birchall, Editors, University of Georgia Press, PopMatters 23.May.07
The End of the World As We Know It, Robert Goolrick, Algonquin Books, PopMatters 7.May.07
The Wow Climax, NYU Press, Henry Jenkins, PopMatters, 24. Apr.07
FOUND Polaroids, Jason Bitner, Editor, Quack! Media, PopMatters 15. Apr.07
Reading Like a Writer Francine Prose, Harper Perennial, PopMatters 3. Apr.07
Freud’s Wizard, Brenda Maddox, Da Capo, PopMatters 12.Mar.07
Knitting Under the Influence, Claire LaZebnik, 5 Spot, PopMatters 6.Mar.07
What is the What, Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s, PopMatters 10.Dec.06
13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, Jane Smiley, Amazon, PopMatters 15.Nov.06
Rain Village, Carolyn Turgeon, Unbridled Books, PopMatters, November 2006
Not in Kansas Anymore, Christine Wicker, Harper SanFrancisco, PopMatters, October 2006,
Housekeeping vs The Dirt, Nick Hornby, Believer Books, PopMatters, September 2006,
Remember Me, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Collins, PopMatters, September 2006
The Ruins, Scott Smith, Knopf, PopMatters, August 2006.
Irrevérsible (Gaspar Noé), Film Quarterly, 57 no. 2 (2003-2004), pp 37-42 (with David Sterritt).

Hidden Baltimore (Column, Baltimore Fishbowl, 2011-12)

Crazy as a Bedbug: A Tour of Historic Belvedere Hotel Suicides, Feb 27 2012
Taxicab Confessional, January 2012
Lady in the Lake: The Mysterious Death of Sphinx Barmaid Shirley Parker, December 12, 2011
Katie Manion Lives in a Zoo, November 18, 2011
SoWeBo’s Secret Stables, October 31, 2011
The Wedding Planner, October 20, 2011
Beautiful Druid Hill Park: Where the Bodies are Buried, Sept 27 2011
The Fetish King: Managing Chained Desires, Sept 20 2011
Haunting the Antique Toy Museum, Sept 19, 2011
Yoga in the Park,  August 26, 2011
Baltimore’s (Thrilling) Backrooms, August 15, 2011.
Medical Actor Melissa Daum, August 02, 2011
Atomic Books: The Center of Everything, July 27 2011
Poe House, Schmoe House, July 11, 2011
Give Rats a Chance, June 21, 2011
Linked by an Invisible Thread, May 20, 2011

Sub Rosa (Column, PopMatters, 2007-2009)

Curse of the Monkey-Eared People, 7 July 2009
The Special Bus, 20 April 2009
Surton Girls, 27 May 2008
E-Mails from the Dead, 5 May 2008
Customer Feedback, 25 March 2008
Plastic Fantastic, 18 February 2008
When Pets and Past their Prime, 5 February 2008
Dyke-Alikes, 6 January 2008
One Man’s Trash….  25 November 2007
The Good, The Ugly, and the Simply Awful, 21 October 2007
Dinners of the Damned, 23 Sept 2007
The Real McCoy, 26 August 2007
Xtreme Zoo Babies, 6 August 2007
Stars in our Pies, 1 July 2007
Shit Happens, 3 June 2007
Abandoning the Fort, 10 May 2007
Side Show Suckers, 1 April 2007
Art History, 6 March 2007
Mein Kat, 6 February 2007
Mixed Pickles, 8 January 2007