Barbara Fass Leavy retired as a full professor from the Department of English, Queens College, the City University of New York. She retained her honorary appointment as Adjunct Professor of English in Psychiatry at the DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University.
Her previous work focused on two areas: literature and folklore; and the theme of plague in literary works from the Middle Ages to the present. Rather whimsically she told her six granddaughters that she is an expert on mermaids, but in a more serious vein, to google her name and the word "mermaid" is to see how widespread is her work on such folklore figures as mermaids, mermen, trolls, demon lovers, and swan maidens. She also wrote on gender relations and was formerly on the editorial board of Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature.
Before retiring as a professor of literature, Leavy taught courses in crime fiction, specifically in Women and Crime Fiction and Crime Fiction and Culture (the ethnic detective). She lectured on the elements of psychology in mystery novels to members of the Institute for the History of Psychiatry. Her study of Ruth Rendell brings together many areas of her studies: family relations, gender, disease as a literary theme, folklore, and mythology.