Welcome to the professional website for Rebekah Fitzsimmons.
I am an Assistant Teaching Professor at the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.
I completed a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellowship in the School of Literature, Media and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology from 2015-2019, where I also served as the Assistant Director of the Writing and Communication Program from 2018-2019.
I specialize in children’s and young adult literature and culture, especially focusing on the social and intellectual history of children’s literature in the United States. I am especially interested in markers of prestige and popularity, such as prizes, bestseller lists, and “best of” lists and how they serve to circulate various forms of capital (social, cultural, political, economic) in the children’s literature field. I have written about these issues in multiple publications, including an article on the NYTimes creation of a Children’s Best Seller list in response to the Harry Potter phenomenon and a book chapter on how blockbuster book culture is creating a new hyper-canon of children’s and YA texts.
My current book project (based on my dissertation, titled “The Chronicles of Professionalization: The Expert, the Child, and the Making of American Children’s Literature”) looks at the various forms of expertise and professionalism that shapes the field of children’s literature. I am also currently working on a Digital Humanities project, analyzing a corpora of texts drawn from one of these early “book women,” Caroline Hewins. Her 1882 list of “Books for the Young” is often cited as a foundational canonical project in the field of children’s literature; my work makes use of data mining techniques and stylometric analysis to look at the similarities and defining characteristics of the books selected for children at this early date.
My teaching experience is broad and varied, including literature courses in children’s literature and American lit; composition courses themed around propaganda in YA dystopia, the cultural and historical precedents of “adulting,” and the rhetorical approaches to science used in children’s texts; and technical communication courses focuses on professional communication, and technical writing for engineers. For more information on my previous courses, please see my teaching portfolio page.
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I was born in New England and graduated with high honors from Emory University with a BA in English/Creative Writing in 2006. I spent 2 years at Emory’s Office of International Affairs as a conference coordinator before beginning my MA at the University of Florida in 2008.
When not at work, I enjoy traveling, hiking, spending time with my family, cooking, and swimming. The header photos on this website were all taken during my travels.