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Jeffrey Chisum

Assistant Professor (Teaching) of Writing

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-1980
Office: JEF 150


Biographical Sketch

Jeffrey Chisum holds degrees in Cinematic Arts, English (magna cum laude), and Literature & Creative Writing. As a teacher of writing, he specializes in curriculum development and assignment design, and was responsible for creating and implementing the General Education course, WRIT 150: Issues in Aesthetics.  In 2013, he was awarded “Master Teacher” status by the USC Writing Program’s Mentoring Committee.


His work as a teacher and scholar is multifaceted: in the field of Rhetoric and Composition, he is principal investigator in a study called “The Genuine ‘A’”: a project which is closely examining the textual qualities, evaluative practices, and institutional values associated with ‘A’-level student writing. The research hopes to gain a better understanding of how the best student writing gets produced and singled out for recognition, with an eye towards implementing better pedagogical practices.


In the field of literary studies, Dr. Chisum—who is a native son of rural Nevada—focuses on the literature, mythology, and culture of the American West, with a special expertise on the Great Basin region. Some of his more recent scholarship has explored notions of illness and memory in the work of Reno poet Joanne de Longchamps; mysticism and the desert in Roberto Bolaño’s epic border novel 2666; and the notion of “western tragedy” as exemplified by the television series Breaking Bad.  His essay, “The Lost Works of Walter Van Tilburg Clark,” which assessed the unpublished work of the Nevada novelist, appeared in the journal Western American Literature. He was also commissioned by Nevada Humanities to write the entry on “Nevada Noir” for the Online Nevada Encyclopedia, and each spring he teaches a Freshman Seminar called, “The Myth of the American West.”


On campus, he has served extensively on a variety of committees, including the Academic Senate, the Senate Nominating Committee, and the USC Committee on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Affairs. In the 2014-2015 academic year, he was Secretary for Dornsife College Faculty Council, and in the 2015-2016 year, he will serve as Vice President of the Council.  


He is also a fiction writer, and his short stories have appeared in L.A. Weekly, The Mississippi Review, Literary Nevada, and elsewhere.



Ph.D. Literature & Creative Writing, University of Southern California, 2007
M.A. English, University of Southern California, 2005
B.A. Cinema-Television, University of Southern California, 2001
B.A. English, University of Southern California, 2001
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