Ph.D. in English, Cornell University, January 1990
M.F.A. in English, Fiction Writing, Cornell University, May 1987
B.A. in English, with Departmental Honors, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1981
I began my career at Amherst College in 1988, hired primarily as a literary critic specializing in the early English novel. My first book, Common Ground: Eighteenth-Century English Satiric Fiction and the Poor (Stanford UP, 1997), explores the ideological and formal pressures exerted by the poor upon the satiric novels of gentleman and gentlewoman authors (Fielding, Sterne, Smollett, and Burney), during a time when the poor were experiencing radical social dislocation. After finishing Common Ground, I took up the fiction writing I had put aside for a decade, and began my first novel, Crybaby Butch, which was published by Firebrand Books in 2004. At the time I felt that, in stepping away from the world of academic language and engaging the more immediately personal topic of the way people live their genders, I was embarking upon a totally different kind of creative project. As I wrote, however, I came to realize that I was in fact continuing to explore many of the same abiding concerns – poverty, literacy, pedagogy, mourning – that had structured my scholarly work. Crybaby Butch traces the relationship between a young, middle-class butch lesbian who teaches adult basic education, and the older, working-class, very masculine butch who becomes her student. The story centers upon the sometimes comic and sometimes excruciating identifications and misunderstandings between these women of different social classes, generations, and dispositions, as they engage in the intimate interactions of the classroom.
Like Crybaby Butch, my second novel, All I Love and Know, explores marginal sexualities and the complex ways in which people learn to live in the shadow of immense loss. It takes place, however, on a larger geopolitical stage. All I Love and Know is about an act of terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the refraction of the US-Israel relationship in the personal lives of American Jews and non-Jews.
I am currently in the early stages of a novel about queerness, race, and reproduction.
In both my scholarly and my fiction writing, I have gravitated to exploring the contact between privileged and marginal groups: the middle classes and the poor, the educated and the illiterate, the healthy and the sick, the heteronormative and the queer, the Israeli and the Palestinian. Such interests have also been reflected in courses I teach: on the novel and history (The Rise of the English Novel, The Literature of Britain's First Empire, World History and the Contemporary Novel in English), gay and lesbian fiction (History and Sexuality in the Contemporary Novel), gender studies (Sexuality and Culture: Cross-Dressing), and literary representations of illness (Representing Illness, Illness and Meaning), and the politics of pedagogy (Reading, Writing, and Teaching).
I also enjoy teaching introductory courses such as Reading the Novel and Fiction Writing I, which I teach on a yearly basis.
All I Love and Know, William Morrow, 2014
Crybaby Butch, Firebrand Books, 2004
Common Ground: Eighteenth-Century English Satiric Fiction and the Poor, Stanford University
Selected stories and articles:
“Gravel,” Best Lesbian Love Stories 2005, Alyson Press
"The Comic Novel and the Poor: Fielding's Preface to Joseph Andrews," Eighteenth-Century Studies 27:2 (Winter 1993/94): 217-34.
"Literacy, Desire, and the Novel: From Shamela to Joseph Andrews," The Yale Journal of Criticism 6:2 (Fall 1993): 157-74.
"In the Waiting Room: Canons, Communities, `Political Correctness,'" in Wild Orchids and Trotsky: Messages from American Universities, ed. Mark Edmundson (New York: Penguin, 1993): 125-49.
Awards, Honors, and Residencies
Finalist, Lambda Literary Award, Gay General Fiction (for All I Love and Know).
Finalist, Ferro-Grimley Award for Fiction of the Publishing Triangle, 2015 (for All I Love and Know).
Residency, The MacDowell Colony, November 2012
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 2008 (for All I Love and Know)
Residency, Yaddo artists’ colony, June 2006
Lambda Literary Award, 2005 (Lesbian Debut Fiction, for Crybaby Butch)
Finalist, Benjamin Franklin Award, Independent Book Publishers Association, for Crybaby Butch, 2005
Fiction Winner, Astraea Foundation’s Emerging Lesbian Writers Fund Award, 2000
($10,000 award for work on Crybaby Butch)