Deborah Mutnick is a Professor of English at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus. She is author of Writing in an Alien World: Basic Writing and the Struggle for Equality in Higher Education (Boyton/Cook 1996) and coeditor with Shannon Carter, Steven Parks, and Jessica Pauszek of Writing Democracy: The Political Turn in and Beyond the Trump Era (Routledge 2019). Her work has appeared in journals, including College English, College Composition and Communication, Rhetoric Review, and Community Literacy Journal, as well as several edited volumes. She is contributing a chapter on the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) and Richard Wright to Rewriting America: The Federal Writers’ Project and Its Ongoing Impact on American Culture, in progress, edited by Sara Rutkowski. She is also the director of Voices of Lefferts: A Community History Project, based in Flatbush-Prospect Lefferts Gardens, which publishes a biannual journal, collects oral histories, and holds public events in an effort to tell the story of the neighborhood in the words of the people who live there. She teaches expository writing, literature, ecocriticism, nonfiction writing, documentary writing, and oral history. 

Together with Shannon Carter, she founded and directed Writing Democracy, an initiative that began during the Great Recession and was inspired by the FWP. In 2012, they coedited a special issue of Community Literacy Journal, based on proceedings from the inaugural Writing Democracy conference in 2011 at Texas A&M University Commerce, which won the “Best Public Intellectual Special Issue Award” from the Council of Learned Journals. In 2021, with Shannon Carter and Sara Rutkowski, she conducted an National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on the New Deal Era’s Federal Writers’ Project. Currently, she is coediting The City is an Ecosystem: Sustainable Education, Policy, and Practices, in contract with Routledge and working on a book about the enduring relevance of Richard Wright’s life and work to 21st century America and the wider world that became his second home.


New York University, Ph.D., English Education, 1994

The University of North Carolina, M.F.A. in Writing, 1978

The University of Michigan, B.A. in English, 1975

Courses Taught

Graduate Courses

  • English 530, Special Topics: Documentary Writing
  • English 520, Nonfiction Writing Workshop
  • English 641, Literacy and Basic Writing
  • English 646, Individual Small Group Writing
  • English 700, Teaching Practicum
  • English 707, Research Methods

Undergraduate Courses

  • Developmental Writing (English 13, 14)
  • English Composition (English 16)
  • English Composition (English 16C – accelerated developmental course)
  • European Literatures (English 62)
  • American Literatures (English 63)
  • Workshop in Advanced Writing (English 103)
  • Creative Nonfiction Workshop (English 168)
  • Contemporary Rhetoric (English 172)
  • Writing in the Community (English 173)
  • Senior Seminar in Writing and Rhetoric (English 192)
  • New York City Lit, (English 229)
  • The Idea of the Human (Core Seminar 50, a required interdisciplinary core course)
  • Honors Advanced Elective, Writing City Life,
  • Honors Advanced Elective, Vermeer and His World
  • Honors Advanced Elective, Brooklyn Stories: Writing, Art, and Creating an Original Illustrated Book
  • Honors Experiential Methods Seminar: Brooklyn Campus Town Hall: Civic Dialogue for Social Change
  • Honors Advanced Elective, The Idea of the Public: Theory, Critique, Practice
  • Honors Advanced Elective, The Nature of the City
  • Honors Advanced Elective, The Future of the City: Problems and Solutions through Literature, Science, Education, and Art
  • Ecocriticism and the City (English 201)
  • Writing in the Sciences (English 178)