I grew up in Boro Park, Brooklyn, NY. I attended Bais Yaakov of Boro Park elementary school, and then moved on to its sister school, Bais Yaakov High School. I spent a year in Cleveland, Ohio, at Yavne Seminary before coming back to teach eighth-grade English Language Arts at Bais Yaakov of Boro Park for two years.
I then attended City College of New York, CUNY, where I earned my BA in English Literature. After a year off to figure out if I really wanted to pursue graduate study (I really did), I began working toward my PhD in the English Department of the CUNY Graduate Center. In April 2021, I defended my dissertation, Reading the World: American Haredi Children’s Literature 1980-2000, and received my PhD.
My broad research interest is the portrayal of and attitude toward childhood and education in a variety of texts. I think about how the texts of medieval Britain, medieval Ashkenaz, and contemporary America reflect prevalent ideas about childhood. I also think about how contemporary ideas about the past (particularly the Middle Ages) manifest in contemporary children’s and young adult books.
My primary area of research is American Haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) children’s and adolescent literature of the late twentieth century. My current project, tentatively titled Reading the World: American Haredi Children’s Literature, 1980-2000, focuses on the first two decades of children’s books from major American Haredi publishers. I trace the factors that led to this moment in Haredi publishing and in Haredi children’s culture, and I examine the ways in which the Haredi child reader’s literacy was fostered and developed by these texts.
I’ve edited a collection of essays, Artifacts of Orthodox Jewish Childhoods: Personal and Critical Essays, published with Ben Yehuda Press in April 2022. The collection gathers essays from both academics and laypeople exploring artifacts of Orthodox childhoods including texts, toys, music, and more. I hope to produce more work in this vein to enable richer study of an understudied area of Jewish childhood studies.
I am under contract with Cambridge University Press’s Elements Series to write a book with the preliminary title The Development of American Haredi Children’s Literature. Each chapter of the book examines a twenty-year span, considering the international, political, social, and cultural factors at play in the development of American Haredi children’s literature.
In addition to traditionally-published writing, I am working on a digital database/finding aid for texts and artifacts of Orthodox childhood towards this same goal, of enabling richer study of the topic by a wider array of scholars. No such archive or book list currently exists, and tracking down texts in various libraries has proven a difficult task in my own work, one which I hope to ease for others.
Since 2014, I have taught at Lehman College, a City University of New York school. I’ve taught courses on composition, medieval and early modern British literature, children’s literature, young adult literature, and the history of the English language. I’ve also taught composition at College of Staten Island and Borough of Manhattan Community College, and medieval and early modern British literature at City College of New York.