Producer, Poetry in America & Co-Founder, Verse Video Education
Thesis Title: Lifting up the Lower East Side: Uptown Jewish Women, "Ghetto Girls," and the Effort to Redeem Jewish Female Delinquency in New York, 1900-1924
What Now: Producer of Poetry in America, Co-Founder of Verse Video Education
What Next: Producing (and directing!) for Season 2 of Poetry in America
Follow Me: @leahreis-dennis (Twitter)
After graduating, I worked as an online course developer for the MOOC platform edX. In particular, I worked on a series of courses on American poetry in partnership with one of my Hist & Lit advisors, Elisa New. After a couple of years, Elisa New and I co-founded our own educational media production company and pitched the Poetry in America show concept to WGBH Boston. As the producer for Poetry in America (which now airs nationally on PBS stations), I help guide our creative vision, in addition to the more operational parts of my job, like budgeting, fundraising, partnerships, and strategy. Many of the poems and poets we feature in our series were first introduced to me in Hist & Lit classes, and the skills of close-reading and historicizing texts are the backbone of the media we produce. Just as important, however, has been the less explicitly academic skill of articulating ideas on the spot. The emphasis that Hist & Lit places on speaking--in venues like the junior tutorial and the senior oral exam--trained me to present myself confidently and clearly in high-pressure settings, which has been invaluable.
Now and into the future, I see my career sitting at the intersection of education and entertainment, and Hist & Lit really taught me that those two areas are more aligned than separate. The idea that we can thoughtfully consume all kinds of texts in all kinds of media--from the low (The Bachelorette) to the high ("The Wasteland")--has inspired me to create media that bridges gaps between literature, art, and the everyday.
• Poetry in America