Laura Arnold Leibman
Kenan Professor of English and Humanities
Division of Literature and Languages
Laura Arnold Leibman is Kenan Professor of English and Humanities at Reed College. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1995. Her work focuses on how material culture changes our understanding of the role of women, children, and Jews of color in the early Atlantic World. Leibman is the author of The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects (Bard Graduate Center, 2020) which won three National Jewish Book Awards, and Messianism, Secrecy and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life (2012), which won a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award and a National Jewish Book Award. She has written several other books and numerous academic articles, including three articles co-authored with Reed students, one of which won the 2015 Wasserman Essay Prize from the journal American Jewish History. She has been a Fulbright scholar at the University of Panama and the University of Utrecht (Netherlands), a visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew an Jewish Studies at University of Oxford, and the Leon Levy Foundation Professor of Jewish Material Culture at Bard Graduate Center. She is known for her scholarship in Digital Humanities and regularly teaches courses in this area. She has served as the Chair of the Digital Media Committee for the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS), and the academic director of the award-winning, multimedia public television series American Passages: A Literary Survey (2003). As a literary scholar, she was the series editor for Gale Researcher’s 10-volume American Literature I, and the religion and literature delegate to the Modern Language Association. She is currently the Vice President of Program for the Association for Jewish Studies. Her latest book Once We Were Slaves (Oxford University Press, 2021) about an early multiracial Jewish family who began their lives enslaved in the Caribbean and became some of the wealthiest Jews in New York was a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award.