Karen Kopelson

Associate Professor

Contact Information


Karen Kopelson joined the faculty in 2002 after earning her Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition, with secondary areas of specialization in theory and cultural studies, from Purdue University.  She has published articles in such journals as College English, College Composition and Communication, JAC, Postmodern Culture, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, and WPA and is the recipient of both the Braddock Award (best essay in CCC, 2004) and the Kinneavy Award (best essay in JAC, 2005). With her colleague, Bruce Horner, she is co-editor of Reworking English in Rhetoric and Composition: Global/Local Interrogations and Interventions (SIUP, 2014). Her current research and teaching interests are in rhetoric of health and medicine, cultural studies of illness, disability studies, rhetoric and writing studies, and queer theory. She is a University Distinguished Teaching Professor.

Courses Taught

Crosslised with WGST 375. Prerequisite: ENGL102 or 105 or WGST 199. An examination of the evolution of LGBTQ literature and of changes in the portrayal of LGBTQ identities through a variety of literary forms. Historical period varies by semester.
Prerequisite: ENGL 102 or 105, membership in English Honors Program. Note: Approved for the Arts and Sciences upper-level requirement in written communication (WR). Two seminars required of all students within the departmental honors program.
Prerequisite: ENGL 102 or 105; ENGL 306 and 310. Study of selected theories for the interpretation of literary and other texts, from the New Criticism to the present.
An exploration of what is known about language, writing, and teaching that treats writing pedagogy as a professional act grounded in theory and informed by a well-defined body of discursive literature.
Prerequisite: Graduate Standing. Graduate seminar in rhetoric that examines science doing and science writing as rhetorical enterprises. As a result, we will consider science as "stories" and look at what these science stories say and how they say it.
Prerequisite: Graduate standing; English 691 or equivalent. A graduate seminar dealing with a specific topic or area of inquiry within the broad field of post-1900 theories of interpretation.

Educational Background

    Ph.D. from Purdue University

      Teaching Areas

        Rhetoric & Composition; Critical Theory; Gay and Lesbian Lit., Rhetoric of Health and Medicine

          Research Interests

            Rhetoric and writing studies; critical theory and cultural studies (especially feminisms and queer theory); questions of disciplinarity; rhetoric of health and medicine; disability studies.

              Honors & Awards

                University of Louisville Distinguished Teaching Professor
                James L. Kinneavy Award (2005)
                Richard Braddock Award (2004)

                  Select Publications

                  Journal Articles

                  “Reading Autism through Addiction: On the (Im)Possibilities of Cultural Recuperation.” Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies 12.1 (2018): forthcoming.

                  “‘Know Thy Work and Do It’: The Rhetorical-Pedagogical Work of Employment and Workplace Guides for Adults with ‘High Functioning’ Autism.” College English 77.6 (2015): 553-76.

                  “Queering the Writing Program: Why Now? How? And Other Contentious Questions.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 37.1 (2013): 199-213.

                  “Risky Appeals: Recruiting to the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement in the Age of ‘Pink Fatigue.’”Rhetoric Society Quarterly 43.2 (2013): 107-33.

                  “Writing Patients’ Wrongs: The Rhetoric and Reality of Information Age Medicine.” JAC 29.1-2 (2009):353-404.

                  “Back at the Bar of Utility: Theory and/as Practice in Composition Studies (Reprise).” JAC 28.3-4 (2008): 587-608.

                  “Sloganeering Our Way to Serenity: AA and the Language(s) of America.” JAC 27.3-4 (2007): 591-636.

                  “Sp(l)itting Images; Or, Back to the Future of (Rhetoric and?) Composition.” College Composition and Communication 59.4 (2008): 750-80.

                  “Radical Indulgence: Excess, Addiction, and Female Desire.” Postmodern Culture 17.1 (September 2006).

                  “Tripping Over Our Tropes: Of ‘Passing’ and Postmodern Subjectivity—What’s in a Metaphor?” JAC 25.3 (2005): 435-67. (2005 James L. Kinneavy Award recipient)

                  “Rhetoric on the Edge of Cunning; Or, the Performance of Neutrality (Re)Considered As a Composition Pedagogy for Student Resistance.” College Composition and Communication 55.1 (September 2003): 115-46. (2004 Braddock Award recipient)

                  “(Dis)Integrating the Gay/Queer Binary: ‘Reconstructed Identity Politics’ for a Performative Pedagogy.” College English 65.1 (September 2002, Special Issue, Gay/Lesbian Studies: Queer Pedagogies. Guest Editor, William J. Spurlin): 17-35.


                  Co-edited with Bruce Horner. Reworking English in Rhetoric and Composition: Global Interrogations, Local Interventions. SIUP .

                  Book Chapters

                  “Afterword: On the Politics of Not Paying Attention (and the Resistance of Resistance).” Reworking English in Rhetoric and Composition: Global Interrogations, Local InterventionsEd. Bruce Horner and Karen Kopelson. Forthcoming SIUP.

                  “Of Ambiguity and Erasure: The Perils of Performative Pedagogy.” Relations, Locations, and Positions: Composition Theory for Writing Teachers. Ed. Peter Vandenberg, Jennifer Clary-Lemon, and Sue Hum. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2006. 563-71.