Karen Graves

Karen Graves

Chair of Educational Studies
Position Type
- Present
Other Affiliations
History of Education

Karen Graves is Professor and Chair in the Department of Education at Denison University. She began her career as a mathematics teacher at Effingham (IL) High School. Professor Graves teaches 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, was awarded a 2010 Critics Choice Book Award from the American Educational Studies Association. Other publications include 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



Selected Publications


  • And They Were Wonderful Teachers: Florida’s Purge of Gay and Lesbian Teachers. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.
  • Inexcusable Omissions: Clarence Karier and the Critical Tradition in History of Education Scholarship, Karen Graves, Timothy Glander, and Christine Shea, eds. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2001.
  • Girls’ Schooling during the Progressive Era: From Female Scholar to Domesticated Citizen. New York: Garland Publishing, 1998.


  • “Gendering the History of Education,” with Lucy E. Bailey. In The [Oxford] Handbook of the History of Education, edited by John L. Rury and Eileen H. Tamura. Online: Oxford University Press, June 2019. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199340033.013.20.
  • “Staking a Claim in Mad River: Advancing Civil Rights for Queer America,” with Margaret A. Nash. In Doris A. Santoro and Lizabeth Cain, eds., Principled Resistance: How Teachers Resolve Ethical Dilemmas, pp. 171-185. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2018.
  • “A Matter of Public Concern: The First Amendment and Equal Employment for LGBT Educators.” History of Education Quarterly 58, no. 3 (August 2018): 453-460. doi:10.1017/heq.2018.23.
  • “The History of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Issues in Higher Education.” In Michael B. Paulsen, ed., Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Vol. 33, pp. 127-173. New York/Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2018.
  • “Gender and Education,” with Lucy E. Baily. Review of Research in Education, Education Research: A Century of Discovery 40, no. 1 (March 2016): 682-722.
  • “E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (1987),” with Emily Nemeth. In Joseph L. DeVitis, ed., Popular Educational Classics: A Reader, pp. 173-183. New York: Peter Lang, 2016. 2016 Critics Choice Book Award, American Educational Studies Association
  • “Sexuality.” In A.J. Angulo, ed., Miseducation: A History of Ignorance-Making in America and Abroad, pp. 52-72. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.
  • 2017 Honorable Mention PROSE (Professional and Scholarly Excellence) Award, Education Theory, Association of American Publishers
  • “LGBTQ Education Research in Historical Context.” In George L. Wimberly, ed., LGBTQ Issues in Education: Advancing a Research Agenda, pp. 23-42. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association, 2015.
  • “An Unlikely Alliance: Re-Examining the Architecture of Affirmative Action.” American Educational History Journal 41, no. 1 (2014): 199-215.
  • “Because It’s Good for You: An Argument for History of Education in Liberal Education.” History of Education Quarterly 54, no. 1 (February 2014): 98-102.


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