Section 508 Website Accessibility

Skip to site navigation Skip to main content
Skip to main content
English (B.A.)

English (B.A.)

Karen Tolchin

Karen TolchinAssociate Professor
Contemporary American literature and film and Creative Writing
Phone: (239) 590-7418
Office: RH 134

Coordinator, Graduate Teaching Assistants

Ph.D., Brandeis University, 2000
M.A., Brandeis University, 1998
B.A., Bryn Mawr College, 1992

Primary areas of teaching and scholarship: Composition pedagogy, creative nonfiction, and contemporary American literature and film

Other areas of teaching and scholarship: Film adaptation, creative writing, journalism, composition, narrative fiction, and the Bildungsroman

Professor Tolchin recently celebrated the publication of her first book, Part Blood, Part Ketchup: Coming of Age in American Literature and Film. Her analysis of 20th century coming-of-age literature and film focuses on novels by Edith Wharton, J. D. Salinger, Philip Roth, John Irving, and Jamaica Kincaid.  Part Blood… situates a century of narratives produced by Americans within national, historical, and global contexts.  It traces 19th century allegations about a troubling narrowness in the American character to contemporary insights about the global superpower.  Ultimately, the book argues that the American Bildungsroman has performed significant cultural work in the construction of our national mythology.  It has transformed maturation into jeremiad. When Professor Tolchin isn’t traversing genres, continents, and centuries in her scholarship, she is attempting to do just that in her teaching by embracing a generalist persona.  As a civilian, she enjoys travel, tennis, movies, creative writing, cooking, and anything at all having to do with spa treatments.      

Since January of 2002, Professor Tolchin has presented six conference papers in state, national, and international conferences, and, with some overlap, served as a moderator at five.  She introduced speakers and interviewed panelists at the first annual Sanibel Island Writers Conference in October, for which she continues to serve as a committee member.  Since 2004, she has served on the university’s First Year Reading Project selection committee, and has helped to design writing assignments. In 2006, she was nominated for the Junior Faculty Scholarship Excellence Award, and won a Professional Development Grant from the Office of the Provost.  At the same time, she was named a member of the executive board of the Southern Humanities Council.  Professor Tolchin currently holds the position of Department of Language and Literature Representative to the CAS Graduate Affairs Committee. As Coordinator of English Graduate Teaching Assistants, she has led a weekly meeting series covering topics including syllabus and exam construction, classroom management techniques, teaching portfolios, and reflective teaching. This winter, she will be chairing her second faculty search committee.  

Selected Scholarly Presentations

“Strange Bedfellows: Alexis de Tocqueville, John Irving, and the Role of the Contemporary Bildungsroman in America’s National Mythology” – May 25, 2007.  The Tenth Nordic Conference on English Studies.  Bergen, Norway.  

“The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly in the Shtetl: From Fidelity Criticism to Transtextual Enunciation” – April 5, 2007.  Presenter and panel chair.  Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association National Conference.  Boston, Massachusetts. 

“The Pot Thrower: Notes on the Death of a Brother” – February 3, 2007. Presenter and panel chair.  Southern Humanities Council Annual Conference.  Louisville, Kentucky.  

“Special Literary Effects: Tracing their Proliferation in Film Adaptations from The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) to In the Bedroom (2001)” – April 12, 2006. Presenter and panel chair.  Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association National Conference. Atlanta, Georgia. 

“Reading Nafisi in Lee County: Teaching Reading Lolita in Tehran in a Red State, and Other Risky Ventures” – February 3, 2006.  Southern Humanities Council Annual Conference.  Asheville, North Carolina. 

“Solitary Visions on the Cutting Room Floor: The Effects of Collaboration on Narrative in Film Adaptation” – March 25, 2005.  Presenter and panel chair.  National Conference, Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association. San Diego, California.     
“Claim, Support, Warrant, and Lights, Camera, Action: Using Toulmin Logic to ‘Read’ Films in College Composition Courses” – October 22, 2004. Annual Conference, Florida College English Association.  Lake Worth, Florida. 
“Simulating and Stimulating Empathy: The Pedagogy of the Writings of Exile” – May 29, 2004. The 9th Nordic Conference on English Studies. University of Aarhus, Denmark.
Selected PublicationsPart Blood, Part Ketchup: Coming of Age in American Literature and  Film.  Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2006. 

“Solitary Visions on the Cutting Room Floor: The effect of collaboration on narrative in Hitchcock’s film adaptation of Rebecca.” From Camera Lens to Critical Lens: A Collection of Best Essays on Film Adaptation.  Ed. Rebecca Housel.  Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006.

“Escape of the Edible Woman: A tale of literary lust.” The Tusculum Review. 2006: 50-59. 

“American Literature.”  The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004. 

Restaurant reviews and feature articles in Gulfshore Life Magazine, 2006-2007.

“‘Hey, Killer’: The construction of a ‘macho’ Latina, or, the perils and enticements of Girlfight.”  From Bananas to Buttocks: The Latina Body in Popular Film & Culture. Ed. Myra Mendible.  Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007. (forthcoming)