Susan A. Miller, PhD
Department Chair
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-7025
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 211

Dr. Miller joined the Rutgers-Camden Department of Childhood Studies in September 2009. She is the author of Growing Girls: The Natural Origins of Girls’ Organizations in America (Rutgers, 2007) and a contributor to several anthologies, including Scouting Frontiers: Youth and the Scout Movement’s First Century (Cambridge Scholars, 2009); Rendering Nature: Animals, Bodies, Places, Politics (UPenn, 2015); and Childhood, Youth, and Emotions in Modern History (Palgrave, 2015). She is also the author of the Oxford Online Bibliography on the History of Childhood in America. Her current research interests include children’s patriotism and nationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the ways in which nineteenth-century female reformers and suffragists included younger girls in their political campaigns. Staying true to her graduate training in the history or science, she is also working on an article about Madame Curie and her daughters, Eve and Irène.

Dr. Miller teaches courses on the history of childhood and youth in America, from colonial times to the present, as well as courses on children and war, and youth sports. She is a former high school mathematics and history teacher who now spends her spare time as a volunteer tour guide at Philadelphia’s historic Laurel Hill cemetery.

Valerie N. Adams-Bass, PhD
Assistant Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-6083
Office:  329 Cooper Street, Room 209

Valerie N. Adams-Bass is an applied researcher seeking to advance scholarship that provides meaningful contributions to the lives of Black youth and their families. Her research integrates contextual factors with a focus on how Black children see themselves and related outcomes. She is most interested in examining how media exposure influences inter-personal interactions and self-concept. Her research also investigates how racial/ethnic socialization experiences and racial identity are related to the process of identity development, the social and the academic experiences of Black children and youth. Dr. Adams-Bass lived and taught in Namibia as a Volunteer Teacher for Africa and served as a Rotary Ambassador Scholar in South Africa where she participated in a community-based research project with South African youth. She is a Developmental Psychologist, earning her Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Education in Urban Education from Temple University. Dr. Adams-Bass regularly trains youth development professionals to use culturally relevant practices when working with African American children and youth. She is a faculty affiliate of the Youth-Nex Center to Promote Effective Youth Development in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia, and an affiliate faculty member of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative at the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Adams-Bass currently serves as a Member-At-Large of the Society for Research on Child Development (SRCD) Black Caucus Executive Board and is a member of the Research Advisory Board Member for National Court Appointed Special Advocates Guardians at Litem (CASA/GAL )Association for Children.

Meredith A. Bak, PhD
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-7009
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 215
Web: https://www.meredithbak.com

Dr. Bak’s research explores historical and contemporary children’s toys, film, and media. She is the author of Playful Visions: Optical Toys and the Emergence of Children’s Media Culture (MIT Press, 2020). Her work in media archaeology using visual and material culture methods investigates recurring discourses about children and media, technology, education and creativity. She has published on a range of toy and media case studies on topics including talking dolls, the Give-a-Show Projector, the D.C. Super Hero Girls franchise, and the film The Babadook. She is at work on a new project that considers the history and theory of animate toys from talking dolls to augmented reality apps.

Bak joined the faculty at Rutgers-Camden from Franklin & Marshall College, where she was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Media at Studies. Since joining the faculty at Rutgers-Camden, Dr. Bak’s research has been supported by the Penn Humanities Forum, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Rutgers-Camden Digital Studies Center, and the Rutgers Center for Cultural Analysis. Dr. Bak is also a book reviews editor for H-Childhood.


Sarada Balagopalan, PhD 
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-6892
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 218

Broadly focused on postcolonial childhoods, Dr. Balagopalan’s inter-disciplinary research engages marginal children’s experiences with compulsory schooling, labor, gendered school-spaces, children’s rights discourses and pedagogies of ‘citizenship’. Trained in education and anthropology, her work is directed at both challenging the exclusionary logics that often underlie humanist efforts around marginal children, as well as productively drawing upon these children’s lives to decenter hegemonic assumptions around childhood. 

Dr. Balagopalan is currently engaged in two separate research projects.  The first of these is an archival exploration of various efforts undertaken to democratize schooling in India from the late nineteenth century onwards.  Her effort is to trace shifts in ideas, institutions and technologies set in place, to not only include marginal populations of children, but to also design ‘appropriate’ and ‘meaningful’ curriculum for them.  Her second research project is an ethnographic exploration of India’s much touted youthful ‘demographic dividend’ with a particular focus on urban female youth, who are first generation school goers, and the complexities that frame their transitions from schooling to skilling.

Sarada’s book Inhabiting Childhood: Children, Work and Schooling in Postcolonial India (Palgrave, 2014) foregrounds the tension between children’s work and schooling as a key site where discourses of colonial modernity, the ‘developmental’ nation-state, late capitalism and current transnational efforts around children’s rights play out.  Her work has been published in several journals.  Sarada’s work has also involved efforts to translate her research interests into curricular and related interventions in elementary education.  Between 2005-08, Sarada served as the Chief Advisor to the Indian government’s middle-school ‘Social and Political Life’ (earlier known as ‘civics’) textbooks.  Dr. Balagopalan is currently a Board member of Nirantar, a center for gender and education in New Delhi, and has also been a part of Eklavya, an NGO in Madhya Pradesh, engaged in pedagogic reforms in India’s public schools.  Prior to joining Rutgers University, she was an Associate Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi .

Kate Cairns, PhD
Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-7024
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 213

Dr. Kate Cairns joined the Department of Childhood Studies in 2014 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in sociology at the University of Toronto. Her work brings a feminist perspective to the politics of childhood and explores how young people are positioned as the promise or threat of collective futures. She has investigated these dynamics across diverse sites, including neoliberal education reform, maternal foodwork, and youth urban agriculture. Dr. Cairns is a member of the Common Worlds Research Collective, and serves on the editorial boards for Contemporary SociologyCurriculum Inquiry, and the Critical Perspectives on Youth series with NYU Press.

Dr. Cairns is the coauthor of Food and Femininity (2015, Bloomsbury) and Introducing Sociology Using the Stuff of Everyday Life (2017, Routledge). Her research on food, consumption and mothering has appeared in venues such as Gender & SocietyJournal of Consumer CultureTheory and Society, and Signs. More recently, she has studied contemporary efforts to connect children and young people with their food as well as community struggles for environmental justice, with publications in AntipodeChildren’s Geographies, Curriculum Inquiry, and Harvard Educational Review. Dr. Cairns teaches courses in children’s geographies, gender and education, girlhood studies, and introduction to childhood studies.

Dr. Daniel T. Cook
Distinguished Professor of Childhood Studies
Adjunct in Sociology

Phone: 856-225-2816
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 116

Dr. Cook’s work focuses on moral configurations of childhood and the child vis-à-vis commercial and economic cultural fields. In particular, he explores the various ways in which tensions between “the child” and “the market” play themselves out in various sites of children’s consumer culture, such as advertising, food, rituals, clothing and media.

He is the author of The Moral Project of Childhood: Motherhood, Material Life and Early Children’s Consumer Culture (2020, NYU Press) and The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer (2004, Duke University Press). The  SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies, a four-volume, 1.1 million word reference work was published in 2020 under Cook’s editorship. A field-defining and field-coalescing work, the Encyclopedia is composed of just under 600 entries on a wide range of topics written by seasoned and emerging scholars and practitioners. Along with Spyros Spyrou (European University, Cyprus) and Rachel Rosen (University College London), Cook co-edited Reimagining childhood Studies (2019, Bloomsbury Press), in which contributors rethink the parameters of key arenas of the field in an effort to chart new directions. Cook also is co-editor of Children and Armed Conflict (2011, Palgrave), along with John Wall and is sole editor of Symbolic Childhood (2002, Peter Lang) and The Lived Experiences of Public Consumption (2008, Palgrave).  He is also the founding Chair of the Section on the Sociology of Consumers and Consumption of the American Sociological Association and serves on numerous editorial boards of journal and scientific committees of international scholarly organizations.

Ongoing research includes work on photography, memory and childhood, a study of how children’s market research professionals (e.g., marketers, market researchers, digital developers) and others in the “kids’ space” conceptualize their practices in relation to deployed notions of childhood and the current troubling of notions of childhood innocence.

Lauren J. Silver, PhD 
Director of Graduate Studies
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies  

Phone: 856-225-7008
Office:  329 Cooper Street, Room 212

Lauren J. Silver is Associate Professor of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University in Camden, NJ. Dr. Silver joined the Rutgers-Camden Department of Childhood Studies in 2009 and is an Affiliate Scholar of the Center for Urban Research and Education and an inaugural Faculty Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice (2021-2022). She is a feminist ethnographer whose work lies at the intersection of abolitionist praxis, queer kinship, and transformative childhood studies. Dr. Silver’s scholarship centers the lives of young people who experience gendered and state violence; her particular focus on valuing children’s theorizing brings pressing, often overlooked, perspectives to activist conversations and practices.

Dr. Silver’s book, System Kids: Adolescent Mothers and the Politics of Regulation (2015, University of North Carolina Press) ethnographically details identity work, as youth navigated systemic and gendered violence, racism, ageism, and other interlocking forms of oppression in a large, urban child welfare system. She is currently writing her second book, Abolitionist Childhood: Forging Freedom at the Rifts of Racial Capitalism, as a series of poetic autoethnographic and ethnographic reflections in innocence, kinship, voice, and care. Abolitionist Childhood imagines a world where the relationships, institutions, and environments that harm children could be undone and built anew to promote healing, freedom, and wellbeing. In Abolitionist Childhood, Dr. Silver ask the questions: how can critical insights from young people and childhood studies counter myths and clarify visions for abolition? How can the momentum from abolitionist movements radicalize childhood studies and center our scholarship in the lives of Black, Brown, Indigenous, disabled, and queer youth?

Lynne Vallone, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-2802
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 204

Dr. Vallone was the chair of the Department of Childhood Studies from 2008 until 2011 and again from 2013-2016. She is the author of Big and Small: A Cultural History of Extraordinary Bodies (2017, Yale UP), Disciplines of Virtue: Girls’ Culture in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (1995, Yale UP) and Becoming Victoria (2001, Yale; a cultural biography of the young Queen Victoria) and the co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature (2005, Norton), Virtual Gender: Fantasies of Subjectivity and Embodiment (U of Georgia P), The Girl’s Own: Cultural Histories of the Anglo-American Girl, 1830-1915 (1994, U of Georgia P), and The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Literature (2011, Oxford UP). In 2011, The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Literature was awarded the Children’s Literature Association’s best edited book prize.  She is general editor of the Palgrave series Literary Cultures and the Child. Her current work historicizes the cultural and political identities of the fetus

John Wall, PhD
Professor of Religion and Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-745-6532
Office: 429 Cooper Street, Room 306
Web: https://johnwall.camden.rutgers.edu

John Wall is Professor of Philosophy and Religion, with a joint appointment in Childhood Studies, at Rutgers University Camden. He is the author of four books: Give Children the Vote: On Democratizing DemocracyChildren’s Rights: Today’s Global ChallengeEthics in Light of Childhood, and Moral Creativity; and co-editor of five volumes: Handbook of Theories in Childhood Studies (Bloomsbury, forthcoming), Exploring Children’s Suffrage (Palgrave, forthcoming), Children and Armed ConflictMarriage, Health, and the Professions, and Paul Ricoeur and Contemporary Moral Thought. He is an internationally recognized expert on post-structuralist ethical theory as well as philosophies of childhood and children’s rights. He co-wrote the proposal that created the first Ph.D. program in Childhood Studies in the United States and was co-founder and chair of the American Academy of Religion’s Childhood Studies and Religion Group. He has taught at Rutgers University Camden since 2000, including courses in Children’s Rights, Philosophical and Religious Perspectives on Childhood, Religion and Contemporary Culture, Biomedical Ethics, and Evil. He was awarded a Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence and a Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence. He grew up in England, earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, and now lives in Philadelphia.

Anthony Wright, PhD
Assistant Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-6648
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 205

Anthony Wright is a medical anthropologist whose work focuses on how social inequalities and the institutional arrangements that produce and sustain them shape how young people inhabit situations of illness and violence. He holds a PhD in medical anthropology from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco (2019) and a BA in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin (2010). He is currently working on a book manuscript titled The Promise of Poison: Faith, Doubt, and the Techniques of Pediatric Cancer Treatment. The book draws on 18 months of ethnographic research at a children’s hospital in California. It shows how patients and families, who inhabit a broad range of identities and structural locations, become participants in the culture of pediatric cancer treatment, which is structured by morally charged representations of child- and parenthood, as well as by secular faith in oncological expertise and the biomedical technologies on which it depends. In addition to his research on pediatric cancer treatment, Anthony is also working on an ethnographic project focused on techniques of youth activism against violence and environmental exploitation among the Purépecha, an Indigenous group residing in the Mexican state of Michoacán. Anthony’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the UC Berkeley Center for Race and Gender, and the UC Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues. He has published work in Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry; The Journal of Urban Health; and Global Studies of Childhood.

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Destiny Crockett, PhD
Mellon Humanitites Postdoctoral Fellow

Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 217

Destiny Crockett (she/her) is a scholar-artist who is curious about African American girlhood in the 20th and 21st centuries, Black feminisms, 20th and 21st century African American women’s literature and visual culture, Black archive theories, and Black queer studies. Some of her published works include “Danitra Vance’s Cabrini Green Jackson and the Performance of Black Girlishness,” Visual Arts Research (Summer 2021) and “Black Girlhood in Toni Cade Bambara’s Literary Archive and Black Feminist Archival Approaches” Resources for American Literary Study (Winter 2021). Her visual artworks ask many of the same questions as her scholarly work, using collage and mixed media to analyze themes of age, the sartorial, beauty, play, and sexuality. Her art practice is supported in part by The Colored Girls Museum, where she works through an artist incubator program, and where her works are part of the permanent collection. Destiny earned her PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania with certificates in Africana Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and her B.A. in English with certificates in African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies from Princeton University.

Mellon Program Coordinator

Kimberly Fleisher

Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 110

Kimberly Fleisher (she/her) joined The Department of Childhood Studies in the fall of 2023 as a former non-profit Executive Director, business leader, public elementary school teacher and early childhood educator. She brings a wealth of experience in program development, community partnership building, and event planning to her role as Program Coordinator. As a first-generation college student, Kim relates to many of the unique challenges of undergraduates. As a leader who has hosted university interns in several of her former roles, she intimately understands what it’s like to be a community partner. Kim earned her Masters of Education in Elementary and Early Childhood Studies from Chestnut Hill College, and her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in African American Studies from The University of Pennsylvania.

Department Staff

Joann Schroeder
Phone: 856-225-6741
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 100

Associate Faculty, Childhood Studies

Holly Blackford Humes, Professor of English
19th/20th Cent. American Literature, Children’s Literature, Meanings that children create from literature

Charlotte N. Markey, Professor of Psychology
Health Psychology, Psychology of Eating-Related Behaviors, Psychology of Adolescence, and Child Development

Naomi Marmorstein, Professor of Psychology
Psychopathology in children and adolescents

Jane A. Siegel, Professor of Criminal Justice
Impact of incarceration on children; family factors in crime and delinquency

Carol J. Singley, Professor of English
American Literature, Children’s Literature, Literary & Cultural Representations of Childhood, Kinship and Adoption.