Catherine Taylor

Professor, Writing
School: School of Humanities and Sciences
Phone: 607-274-3138
Office: Smiddy Hall 421, Ithaca, NY 14850
Speciality: Nonfiction Writing and Image-Text Work

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, image-text work, and poetics. She is the author of You, Me, and the Violence (21st-Century Essays / Mad Creek Books) a book on drones, power, and feelings of powerlessness; APART, a hybrid-genre memoir and political history of 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, and is Co-Founding Editor of Image Text Ithaca Press, whose most recent books both made list of TIME Magazine Top 25 Photobooks of the year. Taylor studied ancient Greek literature and history at Somerville College, Oxford; Classics and Literature at Cornell University (B.A.); and American Literature, Critical Theory, and Emerging Media at Duke University (Ph.D.).

Taylor's essays, poetry, reviews and video essays have appeared in many literary journals including The Believer, Verse, 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, The Emily Harvey Foundation, The Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Marble House Project, and the Arteles Creative Center in Finland. 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
  • Hybrid Genre Writing
  • Cultural and Political Studies
  • Documentary Work
  • Image Text Studies and The Photobook


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

Selected Publications


  • You, Me, and the Violence (21st Century Essays / OSU Press, 2017)
  • Apart (Ugly Duckling Presse Dossier Series, 2012).
  • Giving Birth: a Journey into the World of Mothers and Midwives (Penguin Putnam, 2002).

Essays, Articles, etc.

  • "Saetas," The Believer (online), December 2018.
  • “Inanimate Subjects,” (a portfolio of new work excerpted from my book, You, Me, and the Violence.) Verse. (Volume 33, Numbers 
    1-3). December 2016.
  • "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

  • Naropa University. Reading and Master Class. September 2019.
  • New York University. Invited Lecture. April 2018.
  • University of Rochester. Reading. March 2018.
  • Association of Writers and Writing Programs  (AWP) Offsite Reading. Tampa FL. March 2018.
  • The Poetry Center. Siglufjördur, Iceland. June 2017.
  • Ugly Duckling Presse. Reading. Brooklyn. 2017.
  • “Inanimate Subjects.” Reading. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) PS1. September 2016.
  • “Image Text Ithaca” Event. International Center of Photography (ICP) Museum. New York NY. September 2016.
  • “The Poetics of the Caption.” The Whitney Museum of Art. New York NY. May 2016.
  • The University of Toronto, Jackman Humanities Institute. Invited Workshop on “Teaching Creative Non-Fiction to Academics. May 2016.
  • The University of Georgia, Athens. Reading and Master Class. March 2016.
  • “Racial Politics and Hybrid Genres in James Baldwin and Claudia Rankine: from Epic to Lyric Essays,” International James Baldwin Conference, American University of Paris. Spring 2016.
  • “Teaching Nonfiction Research,” AWP, Los Angeles. Spring 2016.    
  • ACUD Kunsthaus, Berlin, Germany. December, 2014.
  • University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom. November, 2014.
  • “Distance Vision; Drone Warfare as Tourism,” International Association of Word Image Studies, Dundee, Scotland. August 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.
  • "Innovative Writing and International Relations.” Vassar College. 2012.
  • "The Drafts of Rachel Blau DuPlessis." ACLA, Vancouver. 2011.
  • "The Pleasures of Research." NonfictionNow. 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.


You, Me, and the Violence

“Catherine Taylor’s wondrous book—its lucidities and extravagances telescoped into sharp sentences—imagines a peaceful future by digging into the perils of right now. To probe violence’s roots, she questions our infatuated relation to automatons; with poetic feeling, and precise speech, she contrapuntally dissects political passivity and thereby inspires her reader to dream of soulful action. I am moved by Taylor’s distilled language, her faith in eccentric investigation, and her beautifully articulated affinity with puppetry.” —Wayne Koestenbaum

“This is a poetics of daring redeemed from the experimental, a philosophy of caring reclaimed from equivocation. You, Me, and the Violence is the imagination fleshed out, reengaged with the most serious urgencies of contemporary living.” —Ed Pavlic, author of Let’s Let That Are Not Yet: Inferno


"Edifying, original, and critically rigorous — a poetic and political vibration between 'ecstasy, shame, ecstasy, shame.'"
--Maggie Nelson

"Catherine Taylor’s Apart is neither journalism nor memoir nor documentary poem nor lyric essay nor jeremiad—though it contains elements of them all—but a brilliant and relentless examination of conscience always in search of a literary form adequate to its mission."--Brian Teare

Giving Birth: A Journey Into the World of Mothers and Midwives

Winner of the Lamaze International Birth Advocate Award.

 “A blend of scholarship, exposé, and storytelling that is likely to become a classic.” -- Library Journal

As Founding Editor of Essay Press:

Singing in Magnetic Hoofbeat by Will Alexander
A Prank of Georges by Thalia Field and Abigail Lang
The Age of Virtual Reproduction by Spring Ulmer
The Body: An Essay by Jenny Boully
I, Afterlife: Essay in Mourning Time by Kristin Prevallet
Adorno's Noise by Carla Harryman
Letters from Abu Ghraib by Joshua Casteel