Dr Karen Skinazi BA, MA, PhD, FHEA

Academic Practice Advisor, Centre for Learning and Academic Development and Learning Spaces

Contact details

I am an academic practice advisor at the Centre for Learning and Academic Development (CLAD) and a scholar of American literature, with research interests in race, ethnicity, and gender. My current book project is tentatively entitled Women of Valor: Orthodox Jewish Women Teachers, Troll-Fighters, and Tycoons in Contemporary Literature. I convene Developing Your Teaching Practice as part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education. At EDACS, I teach Passing and The Fictions of American Identity (Spring 2017). In addition to my teaching, I run workshops on postgraduate supervision, act as the plagiarism officer for CLAD, and liaise with the College of Medical and Dental Sciences. 


2015: Fellow in the Higher Education Academy (UK)

2005: PhD in English and American Literature, New York University (USA)

2000: MA in English and American Literature, New York University (USA)

1996: BA (Honours) in English (major) and Psychology (minor), York University (Canada)


Before coming to the University of Birmingham, I was a lecturer at Princeton University, University of Alberta, Fordham University, and (as a graduate student) New York University. I was the media and membership chair of The Society for the Study of Multiethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS) 2012-2015, and I review articles for their journal as well as several others in literary and ethnic studies. My research on ethnic American women writers covers turn-of-the-20th through turn-of-the-21st century literature. Much of my writing time is devoted to a book project, which explores representations of Orthodox Jewish women in contemporary literature and culture. For fun, I also write personal essays and popular pieces for such venues as The Conversation, Tablet MagazineThe Jewish Daily ForwardKvellerLilith Magazine, and The Canadian Jewish News.


My teaching at the University of Birmingham has thus far included:

  • Passing and the Fictions of American Identity
  • Developing Your Own Teaching Practice
  • Foundations of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
  • Introduction to Canadian Studies
  • New York, New York
  • Emergence of Mass Culture


Princeton University (Lecturer, 2011-2014)

  • America and the Melting Pot
  • Fashioning Identity

University of Alberta (Instructor, 2006-2010)

  • Literature in Global Perspective
  • Language, Literature, and Culture
  • English Literature in Historical Perspective

Fordham University (Visiting Assistant Professor, Marymount Campus, 2004-2006)

  • Women in Literature
  • Women Writers
  • Close Reading and Critical Writing
  • Survey of English Literature 1
  • Composition and Rhetoric

New York University (Instructor, 1998-2004)

  • Senior Honors Colloquium
  • American Fiction Since World War II
  • American Fiction to World War II
  • Writing Workshop II: Business and Its Publics
  • Writing Workshop I

New York University (Teaching Assistant, 2003)

  • American Lit. I: From Beginnings to the Civil War

Duke University, Talent Identification Program (2000-2003)

  • Books We Read Too Young
  • From Wonderland to Hogwarts
  • Victorian Literature and Thought
  • Writing with Power


My current book project about contemporary women’s voices in Jewish literature is tentatively called Women of Valor: Orthodox Jewish Women Teachers, Troll-Fighters, and Tycoons in Contemporary Literature. Exploring a range of cultural productions (memoirs, critical novels, detective fiction, film, blogs), this book offers a new take on the literature of religious engagement, raises significant questions about the representation of ethnic women in popular culture, and reclaims an ancient Jewish model of womanhood for the 21st century.

In addition to my book project, I am continuing my research on the Chinese-British Canadian/American Eaton sisters—Edith (1865-1914) and Winnifred (1875-1954)—who were the first Asian North American fiction writers, publishing under the pen names Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna, respectively. In 2012, I published a critical edition of Winnifred’s 1916 fictionalized biography of her sister, Marion: The Story of an Artist’s Model, with McGill-Queen’s University Press. My 100-page introduction situates Eaton’s novel, an oblique ‘passing’ narrative that deals with the intersection of race, gender, and nationality, in its historical and cultural climate. I have also created a digital edition of Eaton’s late-career (1920s-30s) writings for the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC).

I am also working, with Dr. Lori Harrison-Kahan of Boston College, to introduce early 20th century New Woman writer, Miriam Michelson (1870-1942), to readers. A writer of diverse genres (popular fiction, journalism, feminist utopias, science fiction, historical fiction) and a Jewish writer whose writing doesn’t fit the genre of ‘ghetto stories’ common to her era, Michelson proves a very complicated figure in literary history, and one likely to evoke much scholarly interest. We will/have publications in MELUS, Legacy, American Periodicals, and The Dictionary of Literary Biography (Writers on Women’s Rights and United States Suffrage). We won the 2016 Don D. Walker prize for best essay in western American literature for our article in MELUS


Edited Books

Skinazi, Karen E. H. and Winnifred Eaton. Marion: The Story of an Artist’s Model. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012.

*Reviewed in American Review of Canadian Studies 03/14; Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review 01/14, and Canadian Notes and Queries 01/13.

Skinazi, Karen E. H., ed. Winnifred Eaton/Onoto Watanna Alberta Writings at Canadian Writers Research Collaboratory (CWRC)

Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals

 “Feminist Collaboration in an Era of Academic Instability.” American Periodicals (forthcoming 2017).

“The ‘Girl Reporter’ in Fact and Fiction: Miriam Michelson’s New Women and Progressive-Era Periodical Culture.” Co-author with Lori Harrison-Kahan. Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 34.2 (forthcoming 2017).

 “Miriam Michelson’s Yellow Journalism and the Multi-Ethnic West” and edition of “In Chy Fong’s Restaurant.” Co-author with Lori Harrison-Kahan. MeLUS: Journal of the Society for the Study of Multiethnic Literature of the United States 40.2 (2015): 182-217. **Winner of 2016 the Don D. Walker Prize for best essay in western American literature**

Kol Isha: Malka Zipora’s Lekhaim as the Voice of the Hasidic Woman in Quebec.” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 33.2 (2015): 1-26.

Expanding Jack Kerouac’s America: Canadian Revisions of On the Road.” American Studies 51.3/4 (2010): 31-59.

Through Roots and Routes: On the Road’s Portrayal of an Outsider’s Journey into the Meaning of America.” Canadian Review of American Studies 39.2 (2009): 85-103.

‘As to her race, its secret is loudly revealed’: Winnifred Eaton’s Revision of North American Identity.” MeLUS 32.2 (2007): 31-53.

 “A Cosmopolitan New World: Douglas Coupland’s Canadianation of AmLit.” AmeriQuests 4.1 (2007): 1-14.

 “Eating the Nations: A Culinary Exploration of Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban.” Midwestern Folklore 29.2 (2003): 37-47.

Book Chapters

“Miriam Michelson.” With Lori Harrison-Kahan. Dictionary of Literary Biography 380: Writers on Women’s Rights and United States Suffrage. Ed. George Anderson. Detroit: Gale Research (forthcoming 2017)

“The Mystery of a Canadian Father of Hockey Stories: Leslie McFarlane’s Break Away from the Hardy Boys.” Canada’s Game? Critical Perspectives on Ice Hockey and Identity. ed. Andrew Holman. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press (2009). 166-210.

“Out of Personhood, Out of Print: Cultural Censorship from Harriet Wilson to Arturo Islas.” Critical Mappings of Arturo Islas’s Fictions. ed. Frederick Luis Aldama. Tempe: Bilingual Review Press (2008). 115-138.

Book Reviews

Review of The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction, ed. David Brauner and Axel Stähler for The Journal of European Popular Culture 7.1 (2016): 75-78.

Review of Jephte’s Daughter and The Saturday Wife by Naomi Ragen for Fig Tree Books (2015).

Review of Pacific Rim Modernisms by Mary Ann Gillies, Helen Sword, and Steven Yao for The Space Between 8.1 (2012): 168-171.

Review of Butterfly Tears by Zoë Roy for Amerasia 37.2 (2011): 163-165.

Review of The Jewish American Novel by Philippe Codde for Philip Roth Studies (2009): 146-7.

Review of Canada’s Jews: A People’s Journey by Gerald Tulchinsky for Canadian Ethnic Studies 40.2 (2008): 216-7.


I have expertise in late 19th through 21st-century American literature; Jewish culture and literature; ethnicity, gender, and race.