Personal Background
Home American Literature Resources Personal Background Curriculum Vitae Courses


Some more about me...

I grew up in New York City (yes, in the middle of Manhattan -- 65th St. and First Avenue), but my horse-crazy heart was really in my family's weekend house on a lake in the beautiful Hudson Valley region. That's what I consider home now -- along with my present Midwestern home, the Cedar Valley.

From fourth grade through high school I attended the United Nations International School, where I received an International Baccalaureate diploma.  (No, my family has no connection with the U.N. -- my parents sent me there because it's a good school and they liked what it stood for.)  Paradoxically, UNIS is where I first became interested in American literature and culture, precisely because it didn't get much attention in the curriculum and wasn't what many of my peers identified with. 

I received my B.A. from Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, where I majored in English and minored in Russian.  In college, I studied mostly British literature and poetry (especially twentieth-century poetry ... in Russian too!).  After working for a year in Philadelphia as an editor and development assistant at a humane society, I went off to study for my M.A. and Ph.D. in English at the University of Chicago.  That's where I eventually headed in a very different academic direction and began working on early American literature.  Before coming to UNI in 1999, I taught for five years at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, an innovative public college on the edge of the pine barrens (which are great) and very near Atlantic City (about which the less said the better, although it was nice to live fifteen minutes from the beach). 

Here at UNI I teach courses in a wide range of areas in American literature, but my own work and greatest interests center on American literature and culture before 1800; my writing focuses primarily people who were dissenters for religious, political, or social reasons -- from the Quakers and other religious radicals in the 17th century to the Loyalists in the American Revolution -- and how they crafted texts that witnessed to their experiences and point of view.  I am increasingly interested in exploring how the body is represented in these texts, and in the forms of desire and allegiance that shape dissenting communities.  Some other areas I'm interested in are women writers, the captivity narrative, poetry (reading it, writing it) and autobiographical criticism.  I am also the Book Review editor of the North American Review.  If you want to know more about my professional background, here's my c.v.

I live in a great house in Waterloo with my cats Carey and Quinn.  In addition to visiting friends and family and playing with the kitties, in my spare time I enjoy travel, local exploration, and being in nature, reading things I don't have to teach or write about, choral singing and women's music, gardening, biking, and learning about the Arts and Crafts movement of the early twentieth century (plus haunting local antique shops and garage sales).  I volunteer at Legion Arts/CSPS, a very cool arts center in Cedar Rapids.  I am also involved in LGBT political activism.  Although I am Jewish by birth and identify as such ethnically, I became a Quaker while I was in college and attend the local Friends Meeting, which is based at the Unitarian Universalist Society and always welcomes visitors.   

To answer the question people tend to ask when they hear I'm from New York:  no, I don't have culture shock over being in Iowa -- though as a single person I find the constant emphasis on "family" makes me feel invisible at times.  It is a beautiful, caring place and there are wonderful opportunities to help make community and culture as opposed to simply consuming them, as one can do too easily in major cities.  If you live here already, I hope you are proud of it, and if you don't, come visit.  

If you want to know anything more, please feel free to ask me yourself.

Here are pictures of my house, if you're interested....


Quinn (back) and Carey (front)