I am a writer, a teacher, and an activist invested in human rights and justice. These values ungird my pedagogy, research, and writing.
As a teacher I approach literature from an interdisciplinary perspective, often through comparative disciplines such as women’s, American, and Middle East studies. For me literature has always been an entry point into exploring history, music, film, art, geography, and politics. Therefore, when I teach a particular novel, poem, or play I use it as an opportunity to integrate as many of these contexts as possible. While students may find it odd to be asked to read maps alongside novels, this approach makes the literature more engaging and ultimately more relevant to students’ lives.
Upon receiving my PhD in 2001, I taught English at Boise State University in Idaho, U.S. During my tenure at Boise State, I accepted a variety of visiting professorships including: the University of Ghana at Legon; al-Quds University, Palestine; the University of Jordan; and the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. In the spring of 2008 I received tenure at Boise State University; I subsequently quit my job to accept a position at an-Najah University in Nablus, Palestine where I taught for one year. Because Israel will not allow Palestinian institutions to provide work visas to internationals, I joined the English department of Amman Ahliyya University, Jordan in fall 2009. The next time I tried to return to Palestine, I was denied entry.
In the fall of 2010 I moved from teaching at a university to chairing an English department at Brummana High School in Lebanon. I accepted this opportunity to work with younger students on writing skills and to motivate them to read at earlier ages. After teaching in the Arab world for a few years, I realized that there are some things that cannot be taught at the college level. By working with younger people, educators can learn about student reading and writing habits. This information can be used to inspire students to read and improve their writing. These remain two goals that I am committed to pedagogically.
My writing includes several seemingly divergent themes, all of which overlap in the sense of my primary research interest: studying the ways in which culture can shape the political sphere in positive ways. I am the editor of Jessie Redmon Fauset’s The Chinaberry Tree & Selected Writings, and The Sleeper Wakes: Harlem Renaissance Stories by Women as well as author of Beyond Slash, Burn, and Poison: Transforming Breast Cancer Stories into Action for which I won Breast Cancer Action’s Spirit of Activism Award (all proceeds from this book go directly to Breast Cancer Action). Most recently, my book The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans: Addressing Pedagogical Strategies was published by Palgrave Macmillan (all proceeds from this book go directly to the Middle East Children’s Alliance).
My most recent activist work includes my role as the legislative coordinator for Idaho District Two for the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation of Palestine. In Palestine I worked with various organizations related to Palestinian refugees, their right of return, and the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement including Badil and the BDS National Movement. I work with the Lebanese Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid, مقاطعة إسرائيل لتحقيق العدالة and Civil Resistance Campaign in Lebanon. In 2007 I co-founded the Nahr el Bared Relief Campaign to assist Palestinian refugees in Lebanon who became internally displaced people when the Lebanese army invaded the camp. I am also a co-founder of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. More recently I have organized with Nasawiya and the Anti-Racism Movement in Lebanon as well as the Middle East Children’s Alliance.
My blog contains an archive of my thoughts and reflections on all of this work over the past few years.