UMass Boston

Sari Edelstein

Wheatley Hall, Floor 06

Areas of Expertise

19th Century American Literature and Culture; Women Writers; Environmental Humanities; Age Studies; Print Culture Studies; Feminist and Queer Theory 


MA, PhD Brandeis University
BA, Northwestern University

Professional Publications & Contributions

Current Projects

I am working on a new book project tentatively titled "Beach Reading" that charts the emergence of the beach as a cultural institution and site of leisure over the course of the nineteenth century. Though we tend to think of the beach as a realm outside of history and a politics, it was not until the nineteenth century that Americans began to engage with the coastline as a space devoted to contemplation, spiritual renewal, and ecological reverie. The beach is a hybrid realm, where land and water collide with fantasy and politics: a space simultaneously revered as natural and universal but also shaped by corporate developers and marred by racial violence and segregation. This project considers many iterations of the beach, including the first public beaches in the US, the rise of resort and vacation culture, second-home literature, as well as the environmental injustices that delimit access to beaches and clean water. It asks: From whom does the beach provide refuge or community? When did it become the “preferred dream space for the masses,” as one historian calls it?  How have plastic pollution and rising sea levels irrevocably altered the experience and meaning of the ocean and coastal landscapes, upending at last the notion that we can escape ourselves and other people? Beach Reading thus reads the beach itself as a text in order to explore white fantasies of purity, women’s desire for freedom and escape, and the collective will to knowledge and experience. 

Courses Taught


  • ENGL 200: Introduction to Literary Studies
  • ENGL 202: Six American Authors
  • ENGL 205: One Book in the World (Reading the Whale: Moby Dick and its Worlds)
  • ENGL 372L: American Women Writers and Culture
  • ENGL 379: Literature and Journalism
  • ENGL 408: American Romanticism
  • ENGL 463: Adulting, or Coming-of-Age in Literature
  • ENGL 465: Oceanic Currents in the Literature of the Americas


  • ENGL 606: Books, Manuscripts, Libraries
  • ENGL 651: Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • ENGL 652: American Romanticism
  • ENGL 659: Women’s Literature and Feminist Theory

Professional Affiliations

  • Member, Advisory Board, Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT), Phillips Academy
  • Co-Director, Center for the Humanities, Culture, and Society (CHCS)
  • Co-Chair, UMass Press Committee
  • Advisory Board, ESQ:  A Journal of Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture
  • Editorial Board,  Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers