Barbara S. Kreiger

Academic Appointments

MALS, Chair of Creative Writing
Adjunct Associate Professor


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Literary nonfiction presents wide-ranging opportunities for choosing subject matter and approach. In MALS, I’ve offered creative writing courses in the personal essay, travel writing, and general nonfiction narrative. The lines between the sub-genres are blurry, at times nonexistent, and that gives us more freedom to investigate.

Recently I expanded my offerings to include two theme-based courses. Beginning winter term 2020, I’ve co-taught with Anna Minardi a new interdisciplinary course, “Writing Nature: Stories and Reflections,” in which we ask students to reflect on their experiences of and in the natural world. Although this course isn’t an environmental studies offering, it will involve a good deal of science, depending on the week’s material and students’ needs and interests.

My other new course is “Writing the Other: Narratives and Intersections,” in which the class will explore multiple ways of exploring aspects of self-awareness. The course will be a combination of personal essay and the stories we construct to further understanding.

Whether students are experienced writers or beginners, international students or native speakers of English, I believe in general that all of them are engaged in the same process as they begin to write and become increasingly alert to the possibilities for self-expression.






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Jewish Studies
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
B.A. Russell Sage College
M.A. Boston College
Ph.D. Brandeis University

Selected Publications

The Dead Sea and The Jordan River (Third edition, expanded, Indiana University Press, 2016).

The Dead Sea is not only the lowest place on earth, it is the lowest by far, and is so saline that it can’t support life. The site of Sodom and Gomorrah, the lake was reviled by centuries of travelers who associated it with the sins of those cities millennia earlier. This book examines the myths that kept travelers away, and the scientific curiosity that compelled others to investigate.

Following the signing of the Peace Accord between Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea, a shared body of water, took on new significance. But in recent years the Dead Sea environment has been tragically altered, and the other half of the environmental disaster is the Jordan River. Both the river and the lake are threatened with extinction, and the challenge in the next years is how to halt the devastation and create new terms for cooperation and peacemaking.


Divine Expectations: An American Woman in 19th-Century Palestine (Ohio University Press, 1999).

Divine Expectations is the story of Clorinda Minor, a charismatic American Christian woman whose belief in the Second Coming prompted her to leave a comfortable life in Philadelphia in 1851 and take up agriculture in Palestine.

Following a failed prophecy about the End of Days, Mrs. Minor  announced that her mission was to teach the poverty-stricken Jews of the Holy Land to work the soil. Her farm was a unique settlement where Christians, Muslims, and Jews labored alongside each other, but tragic events prevented her work from expanding.



“The Search for Herod’s Tomb,” Smithsonian Magazine (August 2009).


Selected works and activities

On-site contributor and participant, CNN, “The Wonder List” segment on the Dead Sea and Jordan River, September 2015; aired March 29, 2015.

The Dead Sea, one of the great natural wonders of the world, is drying up. The dense waters, revered for their restorative powers, are dropping at an astonishing rate and some experts fear the iconic Dead Sea and its unique ecosystem could be damaged forever.

The Sea's main tributary, the Jordan River, has been dammed and diverted for decades to feed and water the booming population of the surrounding countries. Everyone agrees it's a looming disaster and that a solution must be found.

CNN’s Bill Weir takes “The Wonder List” to Jordan and Israel to examine the dramatic evidence of the waters' decline, and meets the men and women who are battling to save one of the most fantastical landscapes on earth and fighting to bring a vision of peace and co-operation to a troubled region.