B.A., Johns Hopkins University; M.A., University of California (Los Angeles); M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Yale University
Professor of English
Literary critic specializing in Victorian and American literature. Children's author.
As a literary critic, I focus on Victorian and American literature and I am particularly interested in the relationship between literature and history. My book, Imperialism at Home: Race and Victorian Women’s Fiction, looks at the way that race relations are used as a metaphor for the relationships between men and women in the fiction of Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, and George Eliot. Lately I have been particularly interested in the way public health concerns (about tuberculosis, fresh air, pure food, etc.) are entwined with the fiction of Willa Cather.
I also write fiction for children. My first novel, Black Radishes, about a Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied France, was inspired by my father's childhood. Black Radishes won the Sydney Taylor silver medal and was named a Massachusetts Book Award finalist and a Bank Street College of Education Best Book, among other honors. I’m also the author of two picture books. The most recent, New Shoes, is about two African-American girls who find an inventive way to foil Jim Crow laws. My second novel, Skating with the Statue of Liberty, about a French Jewish refugee boy in the United States in 1942, a companion novel to Black Radishes, will be published by Penguin Random House in April 2016.
I teach courses in nineteenth-century British literature, early twentieth-century American literature, and creative writing, particularly writing for children. I often teach a first-year writing class on Jane Austen—a novelist much-loved by Wellesley students! I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter, kayaking, ice-skating, walking through the New England woods, waiting for rare books to arrive for me through interlibrary loan, and searching every fall for a perfect, just-dipped caramel apple.