Assistant Professor, History Program
Phone: 814-871-5750
Office: PC 3217

  • Biography
  • Courses Taught
  • Educational History
  • Professional Societies
  • Publications
  • Scholarship/Research
  • Service


In my third year teaching at Gannon, I am excited to continue to share my enthusiasm for the study of Middle Eastern history, Islamic civilization and jurisprudence, and Arabic language and literature, as well as my concern for women's issues (and human rights generally) throughout the globe (in the pre-modern and modern periods).  I am director of the Women's Studies Program-- YOU should minor in Women's Studies, an excellent way to enhance your critical thinking skills and deepen your understanding of how gender issues affect the world around us!

My daughters and I moved here from Philadelphia--where we lived right downtown, and in winter we would always sled on the Art Museum steps where Rocky Balboa liked to go running!  Although we do miss the big city, we've adjusted pretty well.  My older daughter is a junior in high school now; she is a soccer player and heavy into the school theater program.  My eight year old daughter plays soccer too, so if I'm late answering your email, it's because I was screaming on a sideline somewhere.  

In addition to Fairview, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Durham NC, I have lived in Cairo, Egypt, where I studied at the American University in Cairo (AUC)-- Through AUC I got to row crew on the Nile, even winning a gold medal with our women's four in the African championships.  I don't do much rowing anymore, but that was one of the best experiences I ever had-- and seeing Cairo from the water (where it's actually pretty peaceful) gives you a whole new perspective on what is surely the busiest city in the world.   It's a rough time in Egypt right now, but eventually I hope to lead some Gannon trips there, and help students see the Cairo I know and love-- of people who love to laugh, and whose hospitality and kindness are unmatched on the planet.  I am very excited to be teaching Arabic this year and helping Gannon provide critical languages to its students.

I was trained as a classical pianist, and I'm always looking for a chance to sit down and play!   I'm also a published novelist.  My first book, the View from Garden City, is a work of literary fiction based on my years in Cairo.  My new novel, entitled Quicksand, is the first in a mystery/thriller series about an Egyptian-American FBI agent named Nora Khalil!   You can check out my website here!! 

Courses Taught

  • LHST 111 History without Borders
  • HST 391 History through Arabic Literature (Fall 2013)
  • HST 390 History of Modern Egypt (Spring 2014)
  • LHST 99 Honors History without Borders
  • HST 390 Women in Middle East History (Fall 2014)
  • HST 390 Intro to the Middle East (Spring 2015)
  • LHST 111 Honors History without Borders (Spring 2015)
  • ARABI 111 Introductory Arabic (Fall 2015)
  • HST 282 American Military History/Women and War (Fall 2015)

Educational History

  • University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D., 2011 "Compulsion in minor marriages as discussed in early Islamic legal texts"
  • University of Pennsylvania, M.A., 2008 
  • Duke University, A.B. (summa cum laude), 1995

Professional Societies

  • International Society for Islamic Legal Studies
  • Oral History Association



Books and Articles:

Minor Marriage in Early Islamic Law, Leiden: Brill, Forthcoming, 2017.

“Marriage and Divorce in Islamic Law,” Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, eds. Richard Martin et al, Macmillan, 2016.

“Sisters United in Common Cause,” Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University, online essay, 2014.

“Ibn Taymiyah’s Feminism?  Imprisonment and the Divorce Fatwas” in
Muslima Theology, ed. Marcia Hermansen, Vienna: Peter Lang, 2013.

“An Evolution in Early Juristic Thought on Prepubescent Marriage,”
Comparative Islamic Studies, vol. 5.1 (2009) 33–92.

“Menstruation.” Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, Oxford University Press, 2009.


Islam and Literalism, by Robert Gleave, International Journal of Middle East Studies
(January, 2016).

Imam Shafi‘i Scholar and Saint, by Kecia Ali, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam, by Kecia Ali, Journal of Islamic Studies

Ibn Abi Tahir Tayfur, a 9th Century Bookman in Baghdad, by Shawkat Toorawa,
Muslim World Book Review ( 2005).


Quicksand, A Nora Khalil Novel, New York: Tor Books (September, 2015).

Midnight Qasida, A Nora Khalil Novel, New York: Tor Books (Under contract).

The View from Garden City, New York: Forge Books (2008).


My research has focused on historical developments in early Islamic law, and specifically on the topic of child marriage-- research that I hope to contribute to the ongoing efforts to end this practice in the countries (Muslim and non-Muslim) where it is still practiced.  I have also written on divorce law and women warriors in early Islamic history.  I am particularly concerned with unearthing early women scholars of Islam and female activists in the pre-modern period, and, by extension, interested in how selective approaches to  history affect rights discourses in the present.

My current interest in both human trafficking and oral history has shaped my research on statelessness.  Statelessness is a major contributing to factor to increased vulnerability for human trafficking.  I am thus researching effects of statelessness on refugee populations, particularly those refugees in the United States (Erie itself has a rich and diverse refugee population numbering in the thousands), and recording their experiences in oral history interviews.  I am thrilled to bring my students into these efforts by teaching them oral history methodologies and training them to be oral historians.



  • I am faculty adviser to the Students United against Human Trafficking organization.
  • I am faculty adviser to the Muslim Students Association.
  • I direct the Women's Studies Program (Women's Studies Minor) which organizes Women's Studies Teas around important issues several times each semester.
  • I co-direct the Refugee Oral History Program, geared at increasing tolerance and understanding between the diverse refugee populations of Erie and their Erie neighbors.
  • I serve on the International Film committee.