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Caroline Heller

Professor, Director, Individually Designed PhD Specialization

Caroline Heller

Dr. Caroline Heller teaches in the PhD in Educational Studies programs in the Graduate School of Education and directs the Individually Designed PhD specialization. She brings her background as an urban educator, qualitative researcher of out-of-school literacy settings, writer for the Teaching Tolerance Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and archival researcher for her recent study of central Europe before the war, to her research courses at Lesley.

Caroline is particularly interested in helping qualitative researchers write well about their areas of study. She and nine of her doctoral students are presently at work on a book describing this endeavor, Meaning is the Fruit of This Intimacy: Narrative Writing for Doctoral Students and Qualitative Researchers, to be published by Teachers College Press in early 2023.

Caroline’s memoir, Reading Claudius: A Memoir in Two Parts, was published by Dial Press, Penguin Random House in 2015, and is being re-issued as a paperback by Leapfrog Press in November 2021. It looks at Central Europe before, during, and after World War II through the lens of her own family, particularly her father, Paul, who was imprisoned in Buchenwald for six years. The memoir is based on historical research, letters, interviews, and extensive travel. The book was reviewed favorably in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.


BA, University of Chicago

MFA, Bennington College

EdD, University of California at Berkeley

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • Virginia Book Festival, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA., featured speaker, March 23, 2017.
  • Every Person is a Philosopher: Lessons in Educational Emancipation from the Radical Teaching Life of Hal Adams, with William Ayers and Janise Hurtig, eds. Peter Lang Publishers, Teaching Contemporary Scholars, New York, 2016.
  • Invited address and reading of Reading Claudius: A Memoir in Two Parts, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, September 8, 2016.
  • Op-Ed The Moral Narcissism of Donald Trump, Boston Globe, July 17, 2016.
  • Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PINC) First Friday Speakers Series, February 12, 2016.
  • A Special Book Launch Event: Reading Claudius: A Memoir of Memory and Remembrance, November 5, 2015, Teachers College Symposium on Philosophy and Education, Columbia University, New York.
  • “On the Lasting Influence of Primo Levi,” Biographile, October 2015
  • Parnassus Books Reading Series, Nashville, TN, September 10, 2015
  • Reading Claudius, a Memoir in Two Parts. Dial Press, Penguin Random House, 2015.
  • "Society, History and Biography: Grappling with Story in Context," International Conference on Narrative Matters, University of Paris, Diderot, Paris, France, June 2014.
  • You Can’t Carry on Like This: Representing the Unrepresentable.” Invited address, “Storied Lives: Culture, Structure, and Narrative.” Eastern Sociological Society 82nd Meeting, New York City, February 12, 2012.
PhD in Educational Studies Programs