Who I Am

I’m a writer and editor specializing in the arts. I have experience in criticism, features, news reporting, and book writing. I’ve hosted podcasts, run social media brand accounts, and had a weekly live radio feature. My academic background is in the sociology of culture, and I’ve published multiple peer-reviewed studies. Born and raised in Minnesota, I’m currently working as a newspaper reporter in the Lake Superior port city of Duluth.

I was born in Minneapolis in 1975. I grew up mostly in St. Paul, except for a memorable five years spent living in Duluth. Reading Roger Ebert’s movie reviews and Rolling Stone record reviews, I developed an interest in arts writing; by high school I was writing movie reviews for my high school paper and a local teen magazine.

My high school job was baby-sitting, and I became fascinated with the different ways various families raised their children. I majored in early childhood education at Boston University, then moved to Harvard, where I spent a decade in graduate study and research. I earned three graduate degrees including a Ph.D. in sociology, with a focus on the sociology of culture, childhood, and education. My published research includes the book Reconstructing the University: Worldwide Shifts in Academia in the 20th Century (Stanford University Press, 2006), co-authored with David John Frank.

After grad school, I decided to move back to Minnesota, both to live near my family and to pursue my longstanding goal of becoming an arts writer. From 2007 to 2022 I was based in Minneapolis, where I wrote and edited for a variety of local and national publications. My primary jobs were as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet, a nonprofit citizen journalism project (2007-2013); theater critic at City Pages, an alt-weekly (2016-2020); and digital producer at The Current, Minnesota Public Radio’s station for new music (2013-2022). I also co-founded, and continue to co-edit, a pop culture and creative writing blog called The Tangential (2011-).

In February 2022, I became arts and entertainment reporter at the Duluth News Tribune, a daily newspaper serving ten counties of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. I currently live in Duluth.

Photo by Emmet Kowler