Originally trained as a historian, I started off my career interested in why the world is the way it is. Over time my interest shifted to why we are the ways we are. These days I write about both. My first book, The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork (Zone Books, 2012; French translation, 2013), was an investigation into our experiences of bureaucracy, especially when things go wrong. The book was well received in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement, Bookforum, and elsewhere (“probably one of the most entertaining scholarly books ever written” –Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, and Anthropology). I’m currently at work on a book about how other people drive us crazy.
In addition to the book I’ve published several dozen articles, essays, and reviews, a few of which can be found here or here. I’ve been a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities since 2007, and a member of its board of directors since 2012. I have also been a Member of the School of Social Science of the Institute for Advanced Study. Three of my graduate students went on to teach (Harvard, the New School, and UC Berkeley); two went on to train as psychoanalysts.