About Me

I am a Visiting Lecturer in Literature at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in children’s literature.

From 2014-2022, I 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.

Background & Education

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.

Current Research

My primary area of research is American Haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) children’s and adolescent literature. I am interested in how the industry and market of Haredi children’s literature developed in the mid- to late-twentieth century, how the texts help socialize the child readers, and how trends in American Haredi children’s literature match or diverge from trends in mainstream American children’s literature and other religious children’s literature.

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, tracing the history of American Haredi children’s literature from the few titles in the 1960s, grassroots efforts of self-published Haredi authors in the 1970s, and the beginning of formal Haredi children’s publishing in the 1980 through its expansion in the late 20th century and early 21st century.

My first journal article, “‘I Can’t Go to the Public Library’: The Limited Sponsorscape of Haredi Children’s Literature,” is forthcoming from The Children’s Literature Association Quarterly. I am working on two additional essays, one about the publishing and reception history of the popular Ruach Ami series of historical fiction for teens, and another on the portrayal of Israel over the seven-decade run of the Olomeinu / Our World Orthodox children’s magazine.

In addition to traditionally-published writing, I am working on a digital database/finding aid for Haredi children’s literature. My goal for this finding aid is to enable 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.

Future Research

There are so many threads to pull and paths to take in the study of American Haredi children’s literature. I have lists and lists of potential projects, and every time I speak with friends and colleagues about this work, they like to torture me by suggesting ever more possible areas of exploration. My hope is that more scholars will join me in studying this corpus so that I can release some of the ideas, because there’s no way I can tackle all of this research in a singe lifetime. That said, I do have some projects nearer on the horizon than a vague “someday.”

A book about American Haredi historical fiction. My plan for this book is to tackle the various time periods that appear in American Haredi books for children and teens, with each chapter covering a different span of history. The underlying research question for this project is: How do these texts portray the places and time periods they discuss, and how might these depictions shape the child or teen reader’s sense of time and place?

A Digital Humanities project related to the book on historical fiction. My vision for this project is an interactive online map, where each place mentioned in the corpus of Haredi children’s historical fiction is tagged. Each tag will be accompanied with information about which book(s) mention the place, what time period are associated with the place, what kinds of stories are associated with the place, and overall attitudes toward the place as evident in the books.

An online encyclopedia of knowledge based on the Olomeinu / Our World magazine. Using a variety of DH methods, this project will gather keywords of people, places, and concepts mentioned in the magazine’s 66-year run. Each keyword will get its own entry with a brief definition or explanation of the term; an expanded discussion of the term’s specific use and connotation in the magazine; and a “keywords in context” feature indicating the magazine issues which mention that term.

A book about the Olomeinu / Our World magazine. This children’s magazine is a fascinating corpus in and of itself. It lives on even after its last issue was published in 2011, because Artscroll-Mesorah Publications continues to publish collections of stories and comics from the magazine’s pages. There are so many aspects of the magazine to analyze, including how various time periods and places are represented; how the magazine encouraged and promoted its readers’ literacy in both English and Hebrew; how the magazine shifted over the years as American Haredism developed; and overall, how the magazine helped socialize generations of Orthodox Jewish children in America.

Various essays. The list above names some pretty large projects, each of which could take a few years to complete. Along the way, I also plan to write shorter pieces for publication in academic journals. Some possibilities include: 1) Haredi picture books and character education, with a focus on Artscroll’s Middos Book series; 2) Haredi borrowing of mainstream American stories like Encyclopedia Brown (appearing in Haredi children’s literature as Gemarakup Super Sleuth), The Babysitters Club (The B.Y. Times), and American Girls (Jewish Girls Around the World); 3) the use of Haredi children’s books in schools and community libraries; 4) the representation of gender in Haredi children’s literature; 5) the representation of interactions between Haredi Jews, non-Haredi Jews, and non-Jews.