I am a cultural historian who writes about two subjects: theatre/performance and childhood. Sometimes I study these topics together; other times I study them separately. My goal, always, is to think through performance and childhood to produce new knowledge about US cultural history, and particularly American formations of race, from the nineteenth century to the present.
A graduate of Yale's doctoral program in American Studies, I am Professor of African and African American Studies and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. I am also a faculty member in Harvard's doctoral program in American Studies and undergraduate program in Theater, Dance, and Media. With Stephanie Batiste and Brian Herrera, I edit the book series Performance and American Cultures for New York University Press.
My most recent book, Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights, won five awards: the Outstanding Book Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE, co-winner), the Grace Abbott Best Book Award from the Society for the History of Children and Youth, the Book Award from the Children's Literature Association, the Lois P. Rudnick Book Prize from the New England American Studies Association, and the IRSCL Award from the International Research Society for Children's Literature. Racial Innocence was also a runner-up for the American Studies Association's John Hope Franklin Publication Prize and received an Honorable Mention for the Book Award from the Society for the Study of American Women Writers.
My other books include the anthology Cast Out: Queer Lives in Theater (University of Michigan Press) and a Jewish feminist children's book titled Terrible, Terrible! My article "Utopian Movements: Nikki Giovanni and the Convocation Following the Virginia Tech Massacre" was recently published in African American Review, and it won that journal's 2014 Darwin T. Turner Award for “the best essay representing any period in African American or pan-African literature and culture." Another recent article, "Signposts on the Road Less Taken: John Newton Hyde’s Anti-Racist Illustrations of African American Children," appeared in the inaugural issue of J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. Other essays have appeared in PMLA, Theatre Journal, Social Text, and other journals. My 2009 article "Dances with Things: Material Culture and the Performance of Race" won two prizes: the Outstanding Article award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and the Vera Mowry Roberts Award for Research and Publication, given by the American Theatre and Drama Society for the best essay published in English. For my complete C.V., please click on this link: