Professor of African and African American Studies and of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Robin Bernstein is a cultural historian who writes about two subjects: theatre/performance and childhood. Sometimes she studies these topics together; other times she studies them separately. Her goal, always, is to think through performance and childhood to produce new knowledge about US cultural history from the nineteenth century to the present. A graduate of Yale's doctoral program in American Studies, Bernstein is Professor and Chair of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She is 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, she edits the book series Performance and American Cultures for New York University Press.
Bernstein’s most recent book, Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (New York University Press, 2011) won awards from five organizations: the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the Society for the History of Children and Youth, the Children’s Literature Association, the New England American Studies Association, and 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.
Bernstein’s 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! Her articles have appeared in PMLA, Theatre Journal, Social Text, African American Review, Modern Drama, J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, and other journals. Her article “Utopian Movements: Nikki Giovanni and the Convocation Following the Virginia Tech Massacre” won African American Review’s 2014 Darwin T. Turner Award for “the best essay representing any period in African American or pan-African literature and culture,” and her 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 and the Vera Mowry Roberts Award for Research and Publication from the American Theatre and Drama Society. Her most recent article, “‘I’m very happy to be in the reality-based community’: Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Digital Photography, and George W. Bush,” is forthcoming in American Literature.
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