Catherine Taylor

Catherine Taylor

Associate Professor, Department of Writing
Faculty, Graduate Study in Image Text
Faculty, School of Humanities and Sciences

Specialty:Nonfiction Writing
Phone:(607) 274-7031
Office:421 Smiddy Hall
Ithaca, NY 14850

Catherine Taylor is a writer and editor who works in a wide range of nonfiction forms–from documentary and literary journalism to lyric essays, hybrid-genre writing, critical theory, and poetics. She is the author of Apart, a hybrid-genre book of memoir and political history about South Africa (Ugly Duckling Presse) and of Giving Birth: A Journey Into the World of Mothers and Midwives (Penguin Putnam) winner of the Lamaze International Birth Advocate Award.

Professor Taylor worked as a producer, writer, and researcher on a number of documentary film projects in New York City including The Exiles, which won an Emmy award for historical programming, and she was a Co-founder and Producer of The Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Taylor is also a Founding Editor of Essay Press, an independent press dedicated to publishing innovative essays in book form. She studied ancient Greek literature and history at Somerville College, Oxford; Classics and Literature at Cornell University; and American Literature, Critical Theory, and Emerging Media at Duke University.

Taylor's essays, poetry, reviews and video essays have appeared in many literary journals including Seneca ReviewThe Colorado Review, Jacket2, ActionYes, The Laurel Review, Xantippe, Postmodern CultureHotel Amerika, and Witness. Her work has been supported by fellowships and residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, The Millay Colony, and The Djerassi Resident Artists Program. She is currently Co-Director of the new Image Text Ithaca MFA, a graduate program that brings together writers and photographers.


  • Nonfiction Writing
  • The Essay
  • Cultural Studies
  • Documentary Poetics


  • Ph.D. English, Duke University
  • B.A. College Scholar in Literature and Classics, Cornell University

Selected Publications


  • Apart (Ugly Duckling Presse Dossier Series, 2012).
  • Giving Birth: a Journey into the World of Mothers and Midwives (Penguin Putnam, 2002).

Essays and Articles

  • "the atmosphere is a chaotic system" (video essay), Seneca Review. Spring 2014
  • "Inanimate Subjects," Seneca Review. Fall 2013.
  • "Take Your Time: The Ethics of the Event in Rachel Blau DuPlessis' 'Drafts'," Jacket2. Winter 2012.
  • "Protest," "Arboretum," and "It Begins With a Glance," (Nominated for a Pushcart Prize), Hotel Amerika. 2010.
  • “Duffer’s Drift,” Witness. Winter 2008. 
  • “Robben Island,” The Laurel Review. Fall 2008.
  • “Bad Family,” ActionYes. Winter 2008.

Selected Presentations and Readings

  • ACUD Kunsthaus, Berlin, Germany, December, 2014.
  • University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom, November, 2014.
  • "Research and Innovative Writing: A Conversation on History, Archives, and Documentary Aesthetics." The University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2014.
  •  Temple University. Philadelphia PA, February, 2014.
  • “War and the Weather,” Video Work and Introductory Comments. Conference on Ecopoetics, University of California, Berkeley, 2013.
  • “Reveries of a Solitary Walker; The Poetics of Digression,” American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Toronto, 2013.
  • "Between Art and Politics: Ficto-Criticism and Suspended Genres.” Columbia University, 2012.
  • "Faculty Conversation: Innovative Writing and International Relations.” Vassar College, 2012.
  • "The Drafts of Rachel Blau DuPlessis." ACLA, Vancouver, 2011.
  • "The Pleasures of Research." Nonfiction Now. The University of Iowa, 2010.
  • “Mock Docs, Fakes, and Hoaxes.” Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), Denver, 2010.
  • “Protest Memoirs.” AWP Conference, Chicago, 2009. 
  • "Independent Literary Presses.” Brown University. Providence RI, 2009
  • “Women Essayists.” AWP Conference, New York, 2008.
  • "Recitative and Reprise: Contemporary Returns to Reznikoff's Testimony." MLA, Chicago, 2007. 
  • “Beyond A Degraded Realism: Documentary Innovations.” MLA, Chicago, 2007.  
  • “Transgeneric Nonfiction and the Rhetoric of the Gap.” ACLA, Puebla, Mexico, 2007.
  • “Mapping Creative Non-Fiction.” MLA, Philadelphia, 2006. 
  • “Fragments of the Truth: Rhetorics of Genocide.” MLA, Philadelphia, December, 2006.
  • “Mixing Memoir and Political History: Identity, Race, and Nation,” Invited Lecture. All Africa House Lecture Series, The University of Cape Town, 2006.
  • “Doing Documentary Work with Diverse Communities.”  Duke University Center for Documentary Studies. Durham, NC 2005.


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