Karen M. Morin
Presidential Professor and Department Chair
Department of Geography
Lewisburg, PA 17837
I am among a second generation of American feminist historical geographers. My advisor Jeanne Kay (Guelke) was a pioneer in the field, offering in the 1980s and 1990s some of the most incisive critiques of the masculinism of American historical geography. My doctoral work (PhD University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1996) focused on 19th century British women travelers in the American West caught between 'competing' British and American imperialisms and gender norms.
Since then my research has spanned several historical geography tracks, including the history of geographical thought and literacy in North America; 19th century travel writing; British and American post-colonialisms; the geography of religion; and most recently, critical prison studies. (See the Digital Commons and CV links below.)
Inspired by my association with a local nonprofit, the Lewisburg Prison Project, my recent work has become more 'scholarly-activist' in nature. I am presently at work on a number of projects related to historical geographies of mass incarceration in the U.S. and the spatial violence of late modern American prisons and jails.
At the broadest scale my interests are in social and cultural geography. My courses focus on historical and sociological ("social theory") approaches to the study of space and place, especially those to do with gender relations and cultural politics. Courses I regularly teach include:
- Gender, Place, and Culture (GEOG 123)
- Cultural Geography (GEOG 220)
- Introduction to American Studies (GEOG 229/UNIV 229)
- Gender and Geography (GEOG 323)
- Travel Writing and Place (GEOG 375)
Students from my Gender, Place and Culture class participated in the 2012 Social Science Research Poster Session. Mor Gedalia, above, presents her research on the "Life Cycle of Male Soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces."
Activities - Highlights 2012-2013
- An Author Meets Critics session at the New York AAG in April featured discussion of my book, Civic Discipline: Geography in America, 1860-1890. The published Review Forum appears in The Geographical Review 102 (4): 539-562, featuring commentary by Jeremy Crampton, Mona Domosh, Susan Schulten, and the late Neil Smith, among others.
- Historical geographers from Prague, Czech Republic hosted the 15th International Conference of Historical Geographers in August. I presented some new research on spatial violence in the late modern American prison; the published version will appear in EPD: Society and Space.
- The Geography Department at Queen Mary, University of London hosts me as Distinguished Visiting Fellow in March.
- "Carceral Space and the Usable Past" is the title of my Distinguished Historical Geography Lecture, presented at the AAG in Los Angeles.
- Summer highlight: attending the 24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Manchester, UK, and delivering a keynote address, "Geographical Literacies and Their Publics." A version of this talk appears in Progress in Human Geography, research supported by a McColl Family Fellowship, AGS Library (Milwaukee).
- In October the Place Studies Initiative at Bucknell hosted several of us for a public panel discussion at Barnes and Noble Bookstore, titled "USP Lewisburg: A Contested Space."
Approximately one hundred community members attended the panel and participated in a lively discussion about the appalling conditions at the Lewisburg federal penitentiary. Moderated by Leslie Patrick (History, Bucknell), the panel included Dave Bartlett, guard union president; Jeff Thomas, prison warden; Glenn Crook, former prison chaplain; Dave Sprout, from the Lewisburg Prison Project; and myself. One thing we could agree on: the penitentiary is a contested space.
Recent (Selected) Works
- (2013 forthcoming) "Men's Modesty, Religion, and the State: Spaces of Collision," Men and Masculinities.
- (2013 forthcoming) "'Security Here Is Not Safe': Violence, Punishment, & Space in the Contemporary U.S. Penitentiary," Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 37.
- (2013) "Geographical Literacies and Their Publics: Reflections on the American Scene," Progress in Human Geography 37 (1): 3-9.
- (2012) "Paradigm Dramas in American Geography," author response, Review Essay Forum on my Civic Discipline: Geography in America, 1860-1890, in Geographical Review 102 (4): 556-562.
- (2012; anthologized rpt.) with Jeanne Kay Guelke, "Gender, Nature, Empire: Women Naturalists in Nineteenth Century Travel Literature," in Travel Writing: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, eds. C. Forsdick and Tim Youngs (New York: Routledge).
- (2011) Civic Discipline: Geography in America, 1860-1890 (Ashgate Publishers, Historical Geography Series), 245 pp.
Civic Discipline argues that the story of the origins of American geography is a distinctly "New York story." Wealthy businessmen began America's first geographical society - the American Geographical Society - in 1851, inspired by what geographical knowledge of the globe could offer an expanding American commercial Empire at home and abroad. AGS meetings were spectacularly popular among the public and press. At them, geography was cast as a science in the service of the public and civic good. Meanwhile though, AGS men's spatial and financial "missions" became closely linked. They helped improve derelict spaces in New York City and weighed in on controversial scientific questions of the day in the Arctic, yet the geographical knowledge they advanced - such as in the American West and in Central Africa - also created enormous personal wealth. Civic Discipline shows that it was not just that historical events shaped geography, but rather, that geography shaped historical events.
- (2011) with T. Rothenberg, "Our Theories, Ourselves: Hierarchies of Place and Status in U.S. Academia," special issue on Places Postcolonialism Forgot, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 10 (1): 58-68.
- (2010) “Unpopular Archives,” The Professional Geographer 62 (4): 534-543.
- (2010) Author Response, Review Essay Forum on my Frontiers of Femininity: A New Historical Geography of the Nineteenth-Century American West, in Gender, Place & Culture 17 (3): 401-415.
- (2010) “Edward W. Said,” in Key Contemporary Thinkers on Space and Place, 2nd edition, eds. P. Hubbard, R. Kitchin, and G. Valentine (Sage), 337-344.
- (2009) "Charles Patrick Daly," Geographers: Biobibliographical Studies, eds. H. Lorimer and C. Withers, Vol. 28 (Continuum), 105-117.
- (2009) “Landscape: Representing and Interpreting the World,” in Key Concepts in Geography, eds. N. Clifford, S. Holloway, S. Rice, and G. Valentine, 2nd edition (Sage), 286-299.
- (2009) "Feminist Groups within Geography," in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, eds. R. Kitchen and N. Thrift (Elsevier, Ltd.)., Vol 4. 64-70.
- (2009) "Landscape Perception," in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, eds. R. Kitchen and N. Thrift (Elsevier, Ltd.)., Vol. 6, 140-145.
- (2008) Frontiers of Femininity: A New Historical Geography of the 19th century American West (Syracuse University Press), 278 pp.
- (2008) “Charles P. Daly’s Gendered Geography, 1860-1890,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 98: 897-919.
- (2007) Women, Religion & Space: Global Perspectives on Gender and Faith, co-edited with Jeanne Kay Guelke (Syracuse University Press), 216 pp.
- Journal of Historical Geography
- Historical Geography
- ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies
- Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization
- Society of Women Geographers
- The Lewisburg Prison Project, an organization dedicated to protecting the civil, constitutional, and human rights of those incarcerated in the 8 federal corrections facilities, 11 state prisons, and 34 county jails covered in the Pennsylvania Middle District.
- American Studies Association, Critical Prison Studies Caucus
For more information
View my recent works in our Digital Commons.
Please see my Curriculum Vitae.