From 1998 to 2007, I maintained an active sociological research agenda. Since then, I’ve continued to write and teach about sociology and other subjects, principally within social science and education.
My academic research focused on the sociology of childhood, culture, and education. At Harvard University’s Department of Sociology — as a research assistant, Ph.D. candidate, and lecturer — I pursued three principal research projects.
- With David John Frank, I studied the history of research and teaching (meta, right?) at universities worldwide over the course of the twentieth century. We coded data from faculty catalogs, sampled at ten-year intervals, and found a long-term shift away from the humanities in favor of the social sciences, with the amount of attention to the basic natural sciences remaining fairly constant. This research resulted in a Sociology of Education paper and a book published by Stanford University Press, with a foreword by John W. Meyer.
- With Jason Kaufman, I studied the role of extracurricular activities in college attainment using data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey. Our most striking finding was that parents’ museum attendance predicted children’s elite college attainment — an effect swamping the effect of children’s own museum attendance. We interpreted this as a sign of the enduring relevance of cultural capital. This work resulted in papers in Poetics and Contexts.
- Independently, I studied the history of children’s books and media throughout history, but particularly from the late 19th century through the early 21st century in the United States. Using data from book catalogs, popular publications, interviews, and content analyses, I argued that children’s books as a cultural field cannot be separated from other children’s media: that changing ideas about children’s books have changed in relationship with adults’ ideas about emerging cultural fields like movies, radio, and television. This work formed the basis of my A.M. and Ph.D. degrees and multiple conference presentations.
My teaching at the college level included work as a teaching fellow and head teaching fellow at Harvard College, where I was recognized for receiving exceptional student evaluations. I went on to teach sociology at Harvard as a lecturer in spring 2007; and later to teach media and cultural studies at Macalester College (visiting assistant professor, 2012-13). I taught sociology, psychology, and education at Rasmussen College from 2009-2013.
My writing about sociology has included, in addition to the publications mentioned above, both the first (2010) and second (2021) editions of Sociology for Dummies. I also created a play about sociology, Ivory Tower Burning, for the 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival.