Faculty & Staff Achievements

Meet Your Professor: Rita Bullwinkel

by Evan Elliot, USF News

The assistant professor of English talks about boxing, memory, work, and why stories matter.

Which courses do you teach?
I teach courses on creative writing, zines, and the uses of invented and foreign languages as tools for world-building.

Tell us about your debut novel.
It’s called Headshot. It circles eight youth women’s boxers competing in a tournament in Reno, Nevada. It’s about the strange way that the playing of games has the ability to form a collective memory, and the bizarre experience of living in a female body. It’s also about memory, and the fact that the way we humans remember things is often associative and fundamentally nonlinear.

How does it feel to have your book reviewed glowingly in the New York Times?
It feels lovely. I’m a huge fan of Dwight Garner, the critic who authored the review. I was deeply moved by his beautifully written take on my small book.

You’re an editor at large for McSweeney’s, the deputy editor of The Believer, a writer of fiction, and a professor of English at USF. How do you manage?
Not very well! I would like to have only one job. Maybe, one day, this fantasy could be a reality? Hard to tell.

What would you like students to know about the English major at USF?
Technology changes swiftly, but the art of telling a story, of being able to articulate the uniqueness of your lived experience in emotionally true and resonant language — that is a skill that is evergreen.

You said last fall that you are “greatly honored to be joining the USF community at this current moment when the importance and power of narrative has never been more clear.” Why is narrative especially important now?
Narrative is always important. It’s all we have, in many ways. But in this moment of global war, I think often of how the stories we tell, and the stories we hear, can be the difference between life and death.