Department Chair

  • James C. Harrison
    Professor of History
    Kiernan Hall 228

Karen Ward Mahar, Ph.D.

Professor of History
213 Kiernan Hall
Siena College
515 Loudon Road
Loudonville, NY 12211

Phone: 518-782-6570

B.A., George Washington University
M.A., Columbia University
Ph.D., University of Southern California 

Dr. Karen Ward Mahar has been teaching at Siena since 1998, and co-directing the American Studies program since 2000.  She regularly teaches HIST101:  Shaping of the Contemporary World, and HIST204: U.S. History II.  Her upper-division courses have included the history of American cinema, U.S. women's history, the Meanings of Patriotism (co-taught), and American modernism.  She is the History and American Studies internship supervisor, and teaches courses in public history, which includes work in museums, archives, archaeology, and other ways in which the public encounters history outside of the classroom.   Her public history classes have visited Plimoth Plantation, Old Sturbridge Village, and Colonial Williamsburg for behind-the-scenes tours and seminars.
Dr. Mahar's first book, Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), examined how filmmaking, particularly film direction and production, became defined as masculine in the early 20th century.  As a dissertation it was co-winner of the American Historical Association's Lerner-Scott Prize in women's history.  Her current research considers the meanings of gender in Anglo-American corporate culture between 1920 and 1970.  

Other Scholarship:

"Gender and the American Executive at Mid-Century," Association of Business Historians Annual Conference, Henley Business School, University of Reading, United Kingdom, July 1, 2011.
"Doing a Man's Work: The Rise of the Studio System and the Remasculinization of Filmmaking." In Classical Hollywood Reader, edited by Steve Neale. New York: Routledge, forthcoming.  
 “Working Girls: The Masculinization of American Business in Film and Advice Literature in the 1920s,” Paper delivered at the Women & the Silent Screen Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, June 2008.
Several entries in Women Film Pioneers Project, an on-going digital sourcebook,including “Exhibiting Women: Gender, Showmanship, & the Professionalization of Film Exhibition in the United States, 1900-1930,” with Kathryn Fuller-Seeley.
"Dorothy Arzner."In Notable American Women: Completing the Twentieth Century, edited by Susan Ware.  Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004, pp. 31-2. 
"True Womanhood in Hollywood: Gendered Business Strategies and the Rise and Fall of the Woman Filmmaker, 1896-1928," Enterprise & Society, vol. 2, no. 1 (March 2001), 72-110.

Teaching honors:

Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010. 2011.                 
History Professor of the Year, Siena College History Club, 2007.
Students with Disabilities Teaching Award, 2000.