Karen Graves

Karen Graves

Professor Emeritus of Educational Studies
Position Type

Karen Graves is Professor Emeritus of Educational Studies at Denison University. She began her career as a mathematics teacher at Effingham (IL) High School. At Denison Professor Graves taught courses in history and philosophy of education, social foundations of education, and queer studies.

Graves’ research addresses twentieth-century schooling in the United States with a focus on gender and sexuality, and legal policies concerning education. Her book, And They Were Wonderful Teachers: Florida’s Purge of Gay and Lesbian Teachers (2009), was awarded a 2010 Critics Choice Book Award from the American Educational Studies Association. Other publications include Mad River, Marjorie Rowland, and the Quest for LGBTQ Teachers’ Rights (2022), co-authored with Margaret A. Nash, Girls’ Schooling during the Progressive Era: From Female Scholar to Domesticated Citizen (1998), and Inexcusable Omissions: Clarence Karier and the Critical Tradition in History of Education Scholarship (2001), co-edited with Timothy Glander and Christine Shea. In 2020 the History of Education Society named Graves’ 2012 article, “‘So, You Think You Have a History?’: Taking a Q from Lesbian and Gay Studies in Writing Education History,” among the Top 10 list of articles from the 60-year archive of the History of Education Quarterly.

Professor Graves is a Past President of the History of Education Society and a former Vice-President in the American Educational Research Association, Division F: History and Historiography. She is a past recipient of the Charles and Nancy Brickman Distinguished Service Chair (2010-13) and the Charles A. Brickman Teaching Excellence Award (2019) at Denison. In 2013 Graves was recognized as a recipient of the Education Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award at the University of Illinois.

Karen Graves is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan with collegial respect for Cubs fans.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, B.S. 1981, M.Ed. 1988, Ph.D. 1993

Learning & Teaching

  • EDUC 213: The U.S. Education System
  • EDUC 215: Legal Issues in U.S. Education
  • EDUC 300: Philosophy of Education
  • EDUC/QS 330: LGBTQ+ Identities In and Beyond Schools
  • EDUC/WGST 340: In the Company of Educated Women
  • EDUC 421: Senior Seminar


Honors & Awards
  • Charles A. Brickman Teaching Excellence Award, Denison University, 2019
  • Queer Studies SIG Body of Work Award, American Educational Research Association, 2015
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Education Alumni Association, College of Education, University of Illinois, 2013
  • Charles and Nancy Brickman Distinguished Service Chair, Denison University, 2010-2013


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