Karen W. Mahar

Professor of History

Phone: (518) 782‑6570
Email: KMAHAR@siena.edu

Karen W. Mahar

Degrees:

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

Bio:

Born in Washington, D.C., I attended mostly Catholic schools and graduated with a B.A. from the George Washington University in American Studies, combining coursework in history, literature, art history, historic preservation, material culture, and museum studies. The next few years included a graduate semester at Trinity College, Dublin and a stint as a paralegal. I started my serious graduate work at Columbia University, where I received an M.A. in U.S. history, and was then recruited to the University of Southern California by Dr. Lois Banner, a pioneer in women’s history, where I received a Ph.D. in U.S. history and a Certificate in Gender Studies. My dissertation asked why there were so many female film producers and directors in the silent era, and why they all seemed to disappear after World War I (hint: Wall Street). My teaching career began in Southern California as an adjunct, and my first full-time position was at Texas A&M: Corpus Christi. My family moved to the Capital District when I began teaching at Siena in 1998. I feel very fortunate to live in a historically rich area, and I have been involved in local museums and historic sites since we arrived. Personal interests include running and, of course, visiting museums.

What I love about Siena:

I love the students at Siena, who are known for their courtesy. I particularly like teaching first year students, who range from “I am not sure about this” to “I know exactly what I want and I am willing to work hard to get it.” I love the flexibility and breadth of courses that I can offer at Siena. In addition to my position in the history department, I began directing the American Studies Program in 2001, and have served as co-director with Dr. Christiane Farnan (English) since 2007. American Studies allows me to teach in an interdisciplinary way, which is a good thing because my teaching interests include everything I studied since I entered college: American culture, public history, business history, gender, film, and the workplace. American Studies allows me to incorporate literature, art, and public history, and draw from sociology, economics, and political science to consider the American experience from all angles.

My Favorite courses to teach are:

Since I have the joy of teaching what I wish, my favorite courses are whatever I am teaching that semester.

Professional Experience:

Director, Certificate in Public History Siena College 2017 - Now
Chair, History Department Siena College 2014 - 2017
Professor of History Siena College 2012 - Now
Co-Director, American Studies Program Siena College 2007 - Now
Associate Professor, History Department Siena College 2004 - 2012
Director, American Studies Program Siena College 2001 - 2007
Assistant Professor, History Department Siena College 1998 - 2004
Assistant Professor, History Department Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi 1996 - 1998
Adjunct Professor California State University- Northridge 1995 - 1996
Assistant Professor California State University- Dominguez Hills 1993 - 1996
Adjunct Professor University of Southern California 1990 - 1991
Researcher Women in Film Foundation 1987 - 1993
Teaching Assistant University of Southern California 1985 - 1989

Why I chose Siena:

I applied to only one other job in 1998, and I wanted Siena. Siena is small, beautiful, and the Franciscan tradition reflects my own values. I was thrilled that Siena chose me.

Office Hours:

MON:
TUE: 09:30 AM-12:00 PM
WED:
THU: 09:30 AM-12:00 PM
FRI:

My current research:

I am interested in the intersection of gender, work, and culture. Right now I am working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled “Corner Office.” It considers the role of masculinity as the corporate form and its human representative, the business executive, emerged and developed in the twentieth century. In particular, I am trying to untangle the intellectual and cultural fusion of masculinity and capitalism that is evident in the tremendous difficulties still faced by women in the highest corporate ranks. To do so I am looking at corporate archives, business education, industrial psychology, health manuals for businessmen, etiquette books, and representations of business executives in film, fiction, and advertising. Thus far two Siena students have conducted archival research with me on this project, and each has delivered part of a co-written academic paper, one at a national conference and one at an international conference.


My teaching philosophy:

It is my job to meet students where they are in terms of skills, to help students to develop those skills, to help students get the most value from their academic experience at Siena, and to help students find their way to the next phase, whether it is a career or graduate school. It is my job to stay on top of my field, and to keep my door and my mind open. It is the student’s job to do the work, to be engaged inside and outside of the classroom, and to seize the many opportunities that Siena offers, from internships, to study abroad, to innovative programs. The great advantage of Siena is its size: I know students by name, and even if they are not history or American Studies majors, I am interested in helping them get to where they want to go. My favorite teaching moment is when a student suddenly recognizes the personal significance of something previously dismissed as unimportant, whether “trivial” (advertising, film, art, fashion) or “irrelevant “ (academic theories, the experiences of peoples from another time, place, or social identity). I love the light bulb moment.


True Womanhood in Hollywood: Gendered Business Strategies and the Rise and Fall of the Woman Filmmaker, 1896 -1928
Enterprise & Society
2001
 A four-week interdisciplinary NEH summer institute for twenty-five college and university faculty to explore the changing definitions of property, June, 2014, in Poughkeepsie, New York, located in the Hudson River Valley.
category: Teaching
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute, 2014
Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching
category: Teaching
Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2011
Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching
category: Teaching
Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2010
2008-2009: Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching
category: Teaching
Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2009
2007 History Professor of the Year, Siena College History Club
category: Teaching
Siena College History Club, 2007
2004 Committee on Teaching Summer Pedagogy Fellowship and Pedagogy Assistant Grant for 'War Stories: The Siena College Veterans Oral History Project'
category: Other
Committee on Teaching Summer Pedagogy Fellowship and Pedagogy Assistant Grant, 2004
2002-2003: Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching
category: Teaching
Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2003
2001-2002: Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching
category: Teaching
Finalist, Professor Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2002
2000                   Committee on Teaching Summer Pedagogy Grant for 'The Meanings of
            American Patriotism,' with Paul Murray.
category: Teaching
Committee on Teaching Summer Pedagogy Grant, 2000
1999-2000 Students with Disabilities Teaching Award (4/28/00)
category: Teaching
Students with Disabilities Teaching Award, 2000
2000 Committee on Teaching, Summer Research Fellowship
category: Teaching
Committee on Teaching, 2000
1996-1997 J. Franklin Jameson Fellowship in American History.
category: Other
J. Franklin Jameson Fellowship in American History, 1997
1997 Co-recipient, Lerner-Scott Prize (awarded by the Organization of
American Historians for the best dissertation in U.S. Women's History.)
category: Other
Organization of American Historians for the best dissertation in U.S. Women's History, 1997
Doing History An Introduction to the Historian's Craft, with Workbook Activities
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199939817
2015
Doing History: An Introduction to the Historian's Craft, with Workbook Activities
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199939817
2015
The History Student's Handbook: A Guide to Historical Thinking, Research and Writing
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199939817
2015
Women Film Pioneers Project
Center for Digital Research and Scholarship
2013
Women Film Pioneers Project
Columbia University Press
2013
Women Film Pioneers Project
Columbia University Press
2013
Classical Hollywood Reader
Routledge
ISBN: 978-0-415-576
2012
Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood
Johns Hopkins University Press
ISBN: 9780801884368
2006
Notable American Women
Harvard University Press
2004
Women in Business, ed. Mary Yeager
Edward Elgar
1999
Graduate Certificate in Feminist Studies, University of Southern California
1995
"Masculinity as a Business Strategy: The Growth of the Collar Industry in Troy, NY"
March, 2016
Business History Conference, Portland, Oregon
Tailor-Made: Menswear, Masculinity, and the Rise of the American Business Executive
2014
Capital District Feminist Studies Faculty Consortium, Loudonville, New York
Definitely a Man's Man': Executive Culture at General Electric, 1945-1960
March, 2013
Business History Conference, Columbus, Ohio
I am Strong for the Fraternal Spirit': Masculinity and the Creation of an Executive Class
May, 2013
Economic & Business Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland
'The Fullback is a Lady: Sports, Gender, and Post-War Welfare Capitalism
March, 2012
Business History Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Business History Conference Annual Meeting
January, 2012
American Historical Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois
The Cold War Hero in the Gray Flannel Suit: Masculinity & the Organization Man
2011
New York State Sociological Association Meeting, Loudonville, New York
The American Cold War Executive: Gender & Corporate Culture at Mid-Century
2011
American Historical Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois
Gender & the American Executive
2011
Association of Business Historians, Reading, United Kingdom
Working Girls: The Masculinization of American Business in Film and Advice Literature in the 1920s
2008
Women & Silent Screen, Stockholm, Sweden
Questioning Patriotism and Other Taboos: Teaching Controversial Topics in the Post 9/11 Classroom (co-authored wtith Dr. Paul Murray)
2006
American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Oakland, California
Chair, Scholars Panel at 'Upstate New York Goes to War: War and the Home Front, 1775-2004
2005
Symposium at the Rensselaer County Historical Society, N/A, New York
Memory, Place, and Public Spaces
2005
Researching New York Conference, Albany, New York
Images And Film, 2
2005
Siena College WWII Conference, Loudonville, New York
Presenter, 'Bearing it All: Nudity, Censorship, and Privilege in Lois Weber's Hypocrites
2004
Organization of American Historians, Boston, Massachusetts
Presenter, 'Women Film Pioneers Workshop: Analytical Research' (by invitation)
2004
Women and the Silent Screen III Conference, Montreal, Canada
Women and Wartime I--Angels of Mercy and Allotment Annies
2003
Siena College WWII Conference, Loudonville, New York
American Women & World War II: Growth, Change, Anxiety
2002
WWII Conference, Siena College, Loudonville, New York
The American Nexus: 'Realpolitik' and Literature
2002
WWII Conference, Siena College, Loudonville, New York
Visual Matters
2002
Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Presenter, 'Why Mary Pickford Wasn't Andrew Carnegie: Masculine Corporate Culture and the Female Star Producer, 1916-1923
2002
American Studies Association, Houston, Texas
Cultural Politics
2002
Researching New York, 2002, Albany, New York
'I Really Want to Direct...': Hollywood and the First Wave of Movie Star/Producers
2001
Economic & Business Historical Society, N/A, Unknown
The Politics of Contemporary Commemoration: The World War II Memorial
2001
WWII Conference, Siena College, Loudonville, New York
'The Homefront: From Salvage to Salvation', 'The Second Great Fire of London: The Middle American Response'
2000
World War II Conference, Siena College, Loudonville, New York
Exhibiting Women:   Gender, Showmanship, & the Professionalization of Film Exhibition in the United States, 1900-1930
2000
Society for Cinema Studies, N/A, Unknown
American History Panel 'Defining Dreams: Popular Media and American Ideals, 1840-2000'
2000
Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Studies Association, N/A, Unknown
Revising the Neutrality Laws: Opinion, Public and Ethnic
1999
World War II Conference, Siena College, Loudonville, New York
'Linked in True Fraternity': Associational Life in Early Hollywood and the Masculinization of American Filmmaking
1997
American Historical Association, N/A, Unknown
Media, Fashion, and Womanhood
1996
Western Association Of Women Historians, N/A, Unknown
Gendering the Studio: Women and Work in the American Film Industry, 1916-1928
1995
Western Association Of Women Historians, N/A, Unknown
When the Heroine Came to the Rescue: The First Serials and the Woman Filmmaker, 1912-1922
1995
Organization of American Historians, N/A, Unknown
Censoring Women: Censorship, Gender, And Control before the Motion Picture Code
1994
American Historical Association ( Pacific Coast Branch), N/A, Unknown