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Leah Dilworth

Professor of English

B.A., Oberlin CollegeM.A., M. Phil., American Studies, Yale UniversityPh.D. American Studies, Yale University


Since joining the English Department faculty in 1993, Leah Dilworth has taught courses in core literature and composition, graduate seminars in American literature, and the honors electives “The Culture of Tourism,” “Collecting Culture,” and “Rubbish!” She was chair of the English Department 2001-06 and co-chair 2010-12.

Her first book, Imagining Indians in the Southwest (1996), is about the powerful icon of the Indian artisan and the politics of craft production in relation to tourism, ethnography, and the art market at the turn of the 20th century. Drawing on a strand of that research, she began studying collecting as a significant cultural practice. This research resulted in her editing a volume of essays, Acts of Possession: Collecting in America (2003).

She continues to study and write about collecting. domesticity, craft movements, and the emerging field of Discard Studies, which is all about garbage.


American literature and cultural studies.


  • Author, “Imagining Indians in the Southwest: Persistent Visions of a Primitive Past,” published in Smithsonian
  • Editor, Acts of Possession: Collecting in America. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003.
  • Author, “1884. The Southwest.” A New Literary History of America. Eds. Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.
  • Author, “Lost and Found at the City Reliquary.” Glowlab.04 “Forgotten.” September-October 2005.


  • Recipient, Long Island University Trustees’ Award for Scholarly Achievement
  • Honorary member, Alpha Lambda Delta
  • Recipient, Whiting Fellowship
  • Recipient, Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellowship
  • Recipient, John F. Enders Fellowship
  • Recipient, Yale University Fellowship
  • Recipient, Margaret Goodwin Meacham Scholarship

Professional Affiliations

  • Member, Modern Language Association
  • Member, American Studies Association
  • Member, New York Metro American Studies Association
  • Founding Board Member, The City Reliquary Museum
  • Former Board Member, Transportation Alternatives