Karen Steigman



Towers Hall 227

Professor, Department Chair
Department of English

Karen Steigman is a Professor of English, specializing in 20th- and 21st-century American literatures, postcolonial literature and theory, literary theory, and film.  She completed her PhD at the University of Minnesota. Her current research focuses on the post-war fiction and journalism of Joan Didion, Renata Adler, Jamaica Kincaid, and Elizabeth Hardwick. She has published articles on Graham Greene, Joan Didion, and critical university studies in College Literature, a/b: auto/biography studies, and the Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association. She is director of the Honors program and faculty advisor of Film Club.


  • PhD, English, University of Minnesota
  • MA, English and Comparative Literature, SUNY-Buffalo
  • BA, English, SUNY-Buffalo
  • Research, Creative, & Professional Work

    • American literatures 1900-present
    • Postcolonial literature and theory
    • Post-45 Fiction and Film
    • The New Journalism
    • Studies in Genre: Political Fiction
    • Conrad and Other Agents: Greene, Naipaul, Didion
    • Disaster Narratives
    • The Woman’s Picture: Feminism and Film
    • American 1970s Cinema
    • The Western
    • Gangsters & Grifters: The Cinema of Crime (Honors Freshman Year Seminar)


  • “Geopolitical Melodrama: Spike Lee’s 25th Hour.” Teaching 9/11 and Its Aftermaths, MLA Options for Teaching Series, ed. Eden Osucha (forthcoming)
  • "The Colloquy of Little Books." Cultural Critique 115 (Spring 2022): 186-201.
  • “Didion, Fiction, and Complicity.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 30.3 (2016): 596-603.
  • “‘More electrical than ethical’: Joan Didion and Empathy.” In Rethinking Empathy through Literature. Eds. Sue J. Kim and Meghan Marie Hammond. New York: Routledge, 2014. 162-74.
  • “Cold War Intimacies: Joan Didion and the Critique of Postcolonial Reason.” In American Literature and Culture in an Age of Cold War: A Critical Reassessment. Eds. Steven Belletto and Daniel Grausam. Iowa City: U of Iowa Press, 2012. 109-32.
  • “The Literal American: Rereading Graham Greene in an Age of Security.” College Literature 39.1 (Winter 2012): 1-26.
  • “‘The Student is a Far Stranger Figure’: Managing Literary Studies’ Anxiety in the Global University.” The University. Spec. issue of The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, ed. Jeffrey Williams. 37.1 (Spring 2004): 23-31.
  • Affiliations & Awards

    • Phi Beta Kappa, SUNY-Buffalo, 1994
    • MLA (Modern Language Association)
    • ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association)
    • ASAP (Association of the Arts of the Present)
    • Mentor, Preparing Future Faculty Program, The Ohio State University, 2014-present
    • MLA Forum Executive Committee, GS Travel Writing, 2018- 2023
    • New Teacher of the Year Award, Otterbein University, 2010
    • Myron Allen Fellowship, Department of English, University of Minnesota, 1998-99