My research examines how young people become full participants in the production of meaning and knowledge about themselves, others, and the worlds they traverse. Grounded in an ethnographic research perspective, I value the insights, practices, and perceptions of participants as they shape, and are shaped by, the informal and formal contexts through which they form relationships and meaning. Thus, I document the local relations of power, histories, and materials (especially the literature selections) that matter to the participants. My research is further informed by a critical ethnographic paradigm which integrates systematic documentation of participants' everyday practices and perspectives with jointly negotiated approaches for changing inequitable social relations. In classrooms, I not only observe but also work alongside classroom teachers to plan literary studies that engage and challenge students' and teachers' assumptions about knowledge, identity, and power in the production of meaning and social relations.
Currently, I am working with doctoral and undergraduate students to document and analyze the multiple story forms, topics, and identities constructed among immigrant and non-immigrant middle school youth as they tell a range of stories during a lunchtime story club. I have also worked with Dr. Courtney Kelly to document and interpret the script writing and in-school filmmaking of middle school youth in an afterschool program for Latino/a and other immigrant youth.
As the director of research for an OSU/Royal Shakespeare Company Partnership, I am also working with doctoral students and teachers to document the implementation and achievement outcomes of an innovative, dramatic approach to reading and the study of Shakespeare.
I have recently completed co-editing The Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature, a four-year effort that brings together scholarship from Education, English, and Library and Information Studies, and includes the perspectives and artistry of leading authors, graphic novelists, and illustrators.