Meredith Bak, PhD

Meredith A. Bak, PhD 
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 215

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.



Ph.D., Department of Film and Media, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), 2012

M.A., Department of Cinema Studies, New York University, 2006

B.A., Department of Media Arts, Brigham Young University, 2004


Children’s Media, Visual and Material Culture, Toy Design, Cinema, and Archival Research Methods


Undergraduate: Kids’ Media Culture, Toy Design,  Senior Seminar

Graduate: Proseminar, Children and Cinema

View Full CV Here




Bak, Meredith A. Playful Visions: Optical Toys and the Emergence of Children’s Media Culture. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2020).

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Bak, Meredith A. “Optical Play and the Expanded Archive: Mapping Childhood and Media Archaeology,” Early Popular Visual Culture 18:1 (2020): 29-43.

Jason Middleton and Meredith A. Bak, “Struggling for Recognition: Intensive Mothering’s ‘Practical Effects’ in The Babadook,” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 37:3 (2020): 203-226.

Bak, Meredith A. “Taming Monstrous Play: STEAM Learning, Maker Culture, and Monster-Making Media for Children,” Comunicazioni Sociali No. 2 (2018): 218-231.