Dinah Lenney

Assistant Professor (Teaching) of Writing

Contact Information
E-mail: dinahlenney@aol.com
Phone: (213) 740-3250
Office: THH 355

Curriculum Vitae

Biographical Sketch

Dinah Lenney is the author of Bigger than Life: A Murder, a Memoir, published by the University of Nebraska in Tobias Wolff’s American Lives Series. She co-authored Acting for Young Actors and her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Agni, Creative Nonfiction, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Dinah holds a BA from Yale, an MFA from Bennington, and a certificate from the Neighborhood Playhouse School where she studied with Sandy Meisner. She teaches nonfiction for the Rainier Writing Workshop, as well as in the Bennington Writing Seminars. A working actor, she recurred on NBC's critically acclaimed ER for 15 years, and has guest-starred in television series too numerous to mention. Dinah lives in Echo Park – just over the hill from Dodger Stadium -- with her husband and two children.


  • B.A. American Studies, Yale University, 5/1978
  • M.F.A. Literature and Creative Nonfiction, Bennington Writing Seminars, 6/2003

  • Multimedia Scholarship and Creative Works

    • personal essay, Water~Stone Review, "In the Frame", 2009-2010   
    • personal essay, "What Will the Soul Do For Solace Then? AGNI JOURNAL, 69, 2008-2009   
    • craft essay , "From Confession to Craft" Brevity Magazine, 2008-2009   
    • profile, Amy Gerstler for the Los Angeles Times, 2008-2009   
    • personal essay, "How I Inhabit the Earth" Off the Shelf for the Los Angeles Times, 2008-2009   
    • book reviews, Kate Redfield Jamison,Joe Queenan, Christina Schwarz, 2008-2009   
    • opinion/personal essay, "The Graduate, Hovering" "The End of Nurse Shirley" Los Angeles Times, 2008-2009   
    • personal essay, "This Spoon" Coachella Review, 2009-2010   
    • personal essay, "Coffee Table" Superstition Review, 2009-2010   
    • personal essay, "Something for Nothing" Defunct Magazine, 2009-2010   
    • personal essay, "Playing Gertrude" The Kenyon Review Online, 2009-2010   
    • personal essay, "Flight Jacket" AGNI Online, 2009-2010   
    • book reviews, Katherine Rosman, Diana Athill, Roger Rosenblatt, Brenda Miller for the Los Angeles Times, 2009-2010   
    • personal essay , "Christmas" The Los Angeles Times, 2010-2011   
    • Personal Essay , "Eggs" The Mom Egg, 2010-2011   
    • personal essay , "Against Knowing" Brevity Online, 2010-2011   
    • personal essay , "The Dinner Party" Creative Nonfiction, 2010-2011   
    • critical essay , "Be Thou the Voice" Los Angeles Review of Books, 2010-2011   
    • personal essay , "Scoops" Defunct Online, 2010-2011   
    • Review, Hector Tobar, "The Barbarian Nurseries," The Washington Post, 2010-2011   
    • essay review, Ploughshares, "Missing Lucile, 2011-2012   
    • personal essay , Huffington Post, "Under the Influence", 2011-2012   
    • personal essay , Prime Number, "Object Parade: Acorn, Stick Kite:, 2012-2013   
    • personal essay , LARB, "What Happens When You Wait", 2012-2013   
    • Personal Essay , Spaces, "Chandelier", 2012-2013   
    • personal essay , Southampton Review, "Dear Mr. Roth", 2012-2013   
    • personal essay , Brevity, "Instructions, as if", 2012-2013   
    • personal essay , Superstition, "On Finding a Palette in Just the Right Key", 2012-2013   
    • personal essay , Southampton Review, "Green Earrings", 2013-2014   
    • essay review, Water~Stone, "Because I Can’t Draw: on Allison Bechdel, Ali Smith, and Metawriting", 2013-2014   
    • personal essay, "Parade," The Rumpus, 04/2014-  
    • personal essay, "This Old Watch," The Harvard Review, 04/2014-  
    • personal essay, "Collar," The Nervous Breakdown, 04/2014-  
    • personal essay, "Metronome," AGNI, 04/2014-  
    • personal essay, "Cell Phone Diaries," LARB, 03/2014-  
    • personal essay, "Soundtrack," Largehearted Boy, 09/2014-  
    • craft essay, "Consider the Prompt," Brevity, 09/2014-  
    • Book: Collection of Essays, THE OBJECT PARADE, Counterpoint Press, 04/2014-  
    • Interview, With J. Ryan Stradal, editor of the California Prose Direction, at the Los Angeles Review of Books, 2014-2015   
    • Epub anthology, The Best of LARB, Memoir; introduction and compilation of outstanding articles about Creative Nonfiction, 2014., 2014-2015   

    Service to the University

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations
    • Emerging Voices Mentor for PEN USA, 2008-2009   
    Other Service to the University
    • Organized and moderated "Writing the Memoir" with Bernard Cooper, MG Lord, and Sandra Tsing-Loh, 2010-2011   
    • Los Angeles Times Book Festival, Moderator on the USC Stage: Memoir and Disability with Tim Page and Mark Richard., 2010-2011   
    • Organized and moderated FAITH AND THE WRITER with Eric Lax, Mark Salzman, Heather King, and Justin Wood, 2009-2010   
    • Organized and Moderated Critics' panel, with David Ulin, Jonathan Gold, Kenneth Turan, and Evelyn McDonnell, for MPW program and the public., 2008-2009   

    Service to the Profession

    Conferences Organized
    • Moderator/ Faith and the Writer, Associated Writing Programs , Washington D.C., with Dani Shapiro, Askold Melnychuk, David Biespiel, Brenda Miller, 2010-2011   
    • Moderator/ Memoir: Living in a Shadow, Los Angeles Times Book Festival, Los Angeles, CA, with Alexandra Styron, Linda Gray Sexton, Meghan O’Rourke, and Jill Bialosky, 2010-2011   
    • Panelist/What the Narrator Doesn't Know, Associated Writing Programs , Washington D.C., with David Huddle, Lia Purpura, Lee Martin, Jill McCabe Johnson, 2010-2011   
    • Moderator/ Criticism for Its Own Sake, Associated Writing Programs , Denver, Colorado, with Dana Goodyear, Sven Birkerts, William Giraldi, Amy Gerstler, 2009-2010   
    • Moderator/ Memoir: Telling True Stories, Los Angeles Times Book Festival, Los Angeles, CA, with Tim Page, Meghan Daum, James Brown, Lac Su, 2009-2010   
    • Keynote Speaker, Sacramento Writers' Conference, Sacramento, Delivered keynote address, "Writing as Performance: What's Voice Got to Do With It?" , 2008-2009   
    • moderator , Hollywood Book Festival, Hollywood, Moderator, "From the Page to the Stage.", 2008-2009   
    • Moderator, Los Angeles Times Book Festival, Los Angeles, Moderator, Memoir: The Wider Picture, with Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Samantha Dunn, and Gabrielle Burton., 2008-2009   
    • Moderator, Los Angeles Times Book Festival, Los Angeles, Moderator, Memoir: Hopes and Challenges,with Mike Farrell, 2008-2009   
    • panel moderator, Associated Writing Programs Conference, Denver, Organized Panel for the Conference: Criticism for Its Own Sake with Sven Birkerts, Judith Kitchen, Dana Goodyear, Amy Gerstler, and William Giraldi., 2008-2009   
    • panelist, Associated Writing Programs Conference, New York City, "The Power of Silence in the Memoir" with Bob Shachochis, Sven Birkerts, Phillip Lopate, and Susan Cheever, 2008-2009   

    Professional Memberships
    • Associated Writers and Writing Programs, 2004-2014  
    • PEN USA, 2013-2014   
    • PEN USA, 2012-2013   
    • PEN USA, 2011-2012   
    • PEN USA, 2010-2011   
    • PEN USA, 2009-2010   
    • PEN USA, 2008-2009   

    Reviewer for Publication
    • Los Angeles Review of Books, Senior Creative Nonfiction Editor, 2013-2014   

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations
    • AWP panelist and/or moderator, 2007-2015  
    • "Sentence after Sentence after Sentence" ALOUD series at the LAPL, 2014-2015   
    • PEN USA EMERGING VOICES, Visiting Writer, 2008-2014  
    • Los Angeles Times Book Festival, 2007-2014  
    • Beverly Hills Literary Escape, 2013-2014   
    • Visionary Voices in Conversation with Tony Kushner, 2013-2014   
    • West Hollywood Book Fair, 2007-2013  
    • Visions and Voices Moderator for Visionary Women, 2012-2013   
    • Cal State Long Beach Writers’ Conference, Featured Reader, 2011-2012   
    • New American Writing at the Hammer Museum, 2010-2011   
    • Visiting Writer, Centennial Place Shelter for the Homeless, six week course, Poets and Writers Grant, 2010-2011   
    • Visiting Writer, Los Angeles Public Library, Memorial Branch, 2010-2011   
    • Writing Family Panel at Diesel Books in Brentwood, 2010-2011   
    • PEN USA EMERGING VOICES, Visiting Writer, 2009-2010   

  • Master of Professional Writing Program
  • University of Southern California
  • 3501 Trousdale Parkway
  • Mark Taper Hall of Humanities, THH 355
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-0355