Continuity of Operations planning information for the College of Education: Click here

Dr. Gail L. Boldt

Dr. Gail L. Boldt
Phone: 8148650655
Office Address:
164B Chambers Building
University Park, PA 16802
Campus: University Park


Professor of Education (Language & Literacy Education)


Curriculum and Instruction


Childhood and Early Adolescent Education
Curriculum and Instruction: English Language Arts Education
Curriculum and Instruction: Language, Culture and Society

Other Penn State Affiliations

Affiliate Faculty, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies


Dr. Boldt is a Professor teaching graduate seminars in theory and philosophy as they relate to contemporary issues in education. At the undergraduate level, she works in the Elementary and Early Childhood program, teaching literacy methods classes for pre-k - 4th grade pre-service teachers. She is an affiliated faculty member in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Dr. Boldt is the editor-in-chief of the Bank Street Occasional Paper Series. She is also a psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapist doing play therapy with children in a community mental health setting. For the past ten years, Dr. Boldt has led a campus reading group with faculty and graduate students from across the campus reading Deleuzo-Guattarian, post-human, and new feminist materialist theories. 

Dr. Boldt defines herself as a curriculum theorist with interests in literacies, elementary and early childhood education, identity (including gender, sexuality, class, and race) and post-identity, childhood studies, cultural studies, and disability studies. She works primarily with narrative research, drawing analytic lenses from Deleuzo-Guattarian, post-structural, and psychoanalytic theories. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hawai’i in Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, where her advisor was the educational anthropologist Joseph Tobin. Her cognate study was in cultural studies with particular emphasis on post-colonial and feminist work. In literacy, she worked with Diane Stephens. Prior to her Ph.D., she was an elementary school teacher in Honolulu. She has her teaching certification from Mills College in Oakland, California, as well as a M.T.S. from the Divinity School at Harvard University and an M.Ed in Counseling from Penn State.

Before coming to Penn State, Dr. Boldt  was an assistant and associate professor in the Language, Literacy and Culture Program at the University of Iowa. She spent a year as a visiting scholar at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute and completed a post-graduate program at the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis called New Directions in Psychoanalytic Thinking. She has worked in the infant and young child program at the Washington School for Psychiatry and was a research fellow at the Anna Freud Center at the Yale Child Study Center. She is a Fellow in the College of Research Fellows of the American Psychoanalytic Association. 

Dr. Boldt's current research draws from her clinical psychotherapy work and combines Deleuzo-Guattarian theory with contemporary relational psychoanalysis to theorize how learning and change occur through affective experiences that do not privilege speech or even conscious awareness. She uses this to theorize ways to think about and work with the affective worlds of children and teachers in schools. Dr. Boldt writes collaboratively with Kevin Leander (Vanderbilt University) to consider school literacies from a Deleuzo-Guattarian perspective. She also collaborates with Joe Valente (Penn State University) to research models of inclusive early childhood education in French preschools that look to Guattari’s work with schizoanalysis as a model of practice. She is the editor of the Oxford University bibliography of psychoanalysis in childhood studies. 

Areas of Expertise

Age Levels

Early Childhood

Curriculum Areas

Curriculum Issues
Early Childhood Ed
Language, Culture, and Society Ed
Language/Literacy Ed

Education Levels

Early Childhood

Education Types

Public Ed

Educational Studies

Critical & Feminist Theory
Cultural Studies
Educational Theory
Media Studies

Individual Difference

Learning Processes
Sexual Orientation


Equity and Diversity
Media Literacy/Education

Methodological Research

Qualitative Research

Social Issues

Race and Ethnicity
Social Issues

Teacher Preparation

Pre-service Teachers

Courses Taught

CI 528 Theories of Identity

CI529 Foucault and Education

CI560 History of Childhood

CI597 Judith Butler and Education

LLED590 Colloquium in Language, Culture, and Society

LLED400 Methods of Elementary Reading

LLED401 Methods of Elementary Writing


Education History

Ph.D. The University of Hawai'i at Manoa Teaching Certification, Mills College Masters of Theological Studies, Harvard University Psychology, Trinity College

Representative Publications

Boldt, G. and Leander, K. (2020) Affect Theory in Reading Research: Imagining the Radical Difference. Reading Psychology. 

Boldt, G. (2020). Theorizing vitality in the literacy Classroom. Reading Research Quarterly.

Boldt, G. (2020). On Learning to Stay in the Room: Notes from the Classroom and Clinic. In Nicollini, A, N. Lesko, B. Dernikos and S. McCall (Eds). Mapping the Affective Turn in Education: Theory, Research, and Pedagogy.

Boldt, G. and Valente, J. (2019). The emotional work of inclusion: Living within Difference at L’Ecole Gulliver.  In P. Smagorinsky, J. Tobin, & K. Lee (Eds.), Dismantling the Disabling Environments of Education: Creating New Cultures and Contexts for Accommodating Difference. New York: Peter Lang. 

Boldt, G. (2019). Affective flows in the clinic and classroom. In Leander, K. and C. Ehret (Eds.). Affect in Literacy Learning and Teaching: Pedagogies, Politics, and Coming to Know. New York: Routledge, 25-42.

Leander, K and Boldt. G. (2018). Design, desire, difference. Theory Into Practice 57:29–37.

Boldt, G. and Leander, K. (2017). Becoming through “the break”: A post-human account of a child’s play. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 17(3), 409-425. 

Boldt, G. (2017). “Working with Deleuze and Guattari in early childhood research and education.” In Cohen, L. and S. Waite-Stupiansky (Editors). Theories of early childhood education: Developmental, behaviorist, and critical. New York: Routledge.

Valente, J. M., & Boldt, G. (2016). The curious case of the deaf and contested landscapes of bilingual education. Equity & Excellence in Education49(3), 336-349. 

Boldt, G. and Valente, J. (2016). L’école Gulliver and La Borde: A Ethnographic account of collectivist integration and institutional psychotherapy. Curriculum Inquiry, 46(3), 321- 341. 

Boldt, G., Lewis, C. and Leander, K. (2015). Moving, feeling, desiring, teaching. Research in the Teaching of English, 49(4), 430-441.

Valente, J. and Boldt, G. (2015). The rhizome of the deaf child. Qualitative Inquiry, 21 562-574.

Boldt, G. (2015).  Psychoanalysis. Oxford Bibliography of Childhood Studies, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Boldt, G., Lewis, C. and Leander, K. (2015). Moving, feeling, desiring, teaching.  Research in the Teaching of English, 49(4), 430-441.  

Boldt, G. and Valente, J. (2014). Bring back the asylum: Reimagining inclusion in the presence of others. In M. Bloch, M., B. Swadener, and G. Canella, G. (Editors), Reconceptualizing early childhood care and education: Critical questions, new imaginaries and social activism. New York: Peter Lang, 201–213. 

Leander, K., & Boldt, G. (2013). Rereading “A pedagogy of multiliteracies”: Bodies, texts, and emergence. Journal of Literacy Research, 45(1), 22-46.

Sherbine, K. and Boldt, G. (2013). Becoming intense. In F. McArdle and G. Boldt, (Editors), Young children, pedagogy, and the arts: Ways of seeing. New York: Routledge, 73-88. 

 Boldt, G. and Pivnick, B. (2013). Moments of meeting: Learning to play with reading resistance. In M. O’Loughlin (Editor). The uses of psychoanalysi in working with children’s emotional lives. Pennsylvania: Rowman and Littlefield, 245-263.

Boldt, G. (2010). One hundred hotdogs, or performing gender in the elementary classroom.  In T. Jacobson (Editor), Perspectives on gender in early childhood education, St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press. Revised and reprinted from Bank Street Occasional Papers, 12, 6-22. 

Salvio P. and Boldt, G. (2010). Who let the dogs out?  Unleashing an uncanny sense of audience in the writing workshop.  In M. O’Loughlin and R. Johnson (Editors), Working the space in between: Pedagogical possibilities in rethinking children’s subjectivity, New York: Teachers College Press, 179-206

Boldt, G. (2009). Kyle and the basilisk: Understanding children’s writing as play. Language Arts, 87(1), 9-17.

Boldt, G. (2009). Theorizing passionate love in reading: A social-psychoanalytic theory. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 4, 246-265.

Salvio, P., & Boldt, G. (2009). ‘A democracy tempered by the rate of exchange’: Audit culture and the sell-out of progressive writing curriculum. English in Education, 43(2), 113-128.

Boldt, G. (2006). Resistance, loss and love in learning to read: A psychoanalytic inquiry. Research into the Teaching of English, 40(3), 272-309.

Boldt, G. and Salvio, P. (Editors). (2006). Love's return: Psychoanalytic essays on childhood, teaching and learning. New York: Routledge.

Activities and Honors

2019                     Bloch Distinguished Career Award, International Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education

2019                     Fellow, College of Research Fellows, American Psychoanalytic Association. 

2015                     International Psychoanalytic Association Research Fellow, Anna Freud Center, Yale Child Study Center, Freud Institution of Berlin and Tavistock Clinic London. 

2012                     Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Education, Penn State University.

2010                     Climate Enhancement Award, College of Education, Penn State University.

2009                     Teaching and Learning with Technology Award, Penn State University.

2007                     Scholar, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, University of Iowa.

2003 – 2004         Visiting Scholar, The Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.

2000    Co –winner, Alan C. Purves Award, Research in the Teaching of English.