Davidson has written eight books of poetry as well as numerous historical, cultural and critical works. He has been affiliated with the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) since 1974 and as a professor of American literature since 1988 with areas of study and research in Modern Poetry, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, and Disability Studies.
Davidson served as the first curator of the Mandeville Department of Special Collections (UCSD) where the George Oppen papers are stored. The Archive for New Poetry is now a major campus, community and international resource for studying post-1945 English-language poetry, and is one of the four largest American poetry collections in the U.S. The archive contains holdings that emphasize the ongoing “countertradition” in recent American writing — particularly the Objectivist poets, the Black Mountain poets, the San Francisco Renaissance, the New York School, and the Language School.
Davidson, who recently became hearing impaired, has written extensively on disability issues, most recently "Hearing Things: The Scandal of Speech in Deaf Performance," in Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, "Phantom Limbs: Film Noir and the Disabled Body," GLQ 9:1-2 (2003), and "Strange Blood: Hemophobia and the Unexplored Boundaries of Queer Nation," in Beyond the Boundary: Reconstructing Cultural Identity in a Multicultural Context. His essays on disability are forthcoming in Concerto for the Left Hand: Disability and the Defamiliar Body (University of Michigan).His forthcoming critical work, Outskirts of Form: Practicing Cultural Poetics, is scheduled for publication in 2011 by Wesleyan University Press.
In addition to being a widely published poet and poetry editor(he is represented in the 2004 edition of Best American Poetry by a poem entitled "Bad Modernism"), Davidson is known for insightful literary criticism, his work in disability studies, and for the meticulous editing of the monumental George Oppen, New Collected Poems: this in which Davidson shares in the integrity of his subject.
The Mutabilities & The Foul Papers. Sand Dollar Books 1976
Summer Letters. Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow Press 1977 Published in pamphlet form as Sparrow 61
The Prose of Fact. Berkeley: The Figures, 1981
The Landing of Rochambeau. Providence, R.I.: Burning Deck, 1985
Analogy of the Ion. Great Barrington, MA: The Figures, 1988
Post Hoc. Bolinas, Calif.: Avenue B, 1990
The Arcades. O Books, Fall 1999
'editor of George Oppen: New Collected Poems. New York: New Directions, 2002
Concerto for the Left Hand: Disability and the Defamiliar Body. University of Michigan Press, 2008.
Leningrad: American Writers in the Soviet Union (with Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, and Barrett Watten). San Francisco: Mercury House, 1991.
The San Francisco Renaissance: Poetics and Community at Mid-Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Ghostlier Demarcations: Modern Poetry and the Material Word. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Guys Like Us: Citing Masculinity in Cold War Poetics. U of Chicago Press, 2003.
"Notes beyond the Notes: Wallace Stevens and Contemporary Poetics," Wallace Stevens: The Poetics of Modernism, ed. Albert Gelpi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
"Dismantling 'Mantis:' Reification and Objectivist Poetics," American Literary History, 3.3 (Fall 1991): 521-541.
"Marginality in the Margins: Robert Duncan's Textual Politics," Contemporary Literature, 33.2 (Summer 1992): 275-301.
"'When the world strips down and rouges up:' Redressing Whitman," Breaking Bounds: Whitman and American Cultural Studies, ed. Betsy Erkkila. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
"The Lady from Shanghai: California Orientalism and 'guys like us,'" Western American Literature (Winter 2001).
"Strange Blood: Hemophobia and the Unexplored Boundaries of Queer Nation." Beyond the Boundary: American Identity and Multiculturalism. Ed. Tim Powell. New Brunswick: Rutgers U Press, 1999. 39-60.
"Hearing Things: The Scandal of Voice in Deaf Performance," Enabling the Humanities: A Disability Studies Sourcebook, eds. Sharon Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland Thomson. New York: Modern Language Association, 2001.