Karen CardozoDr. Karen M. Cardozo

Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies


About Me

Having worked as a career counselor (at Harvard and at Williams College), as a dean of student and academic affairs (at Mount Holyoke College), and as a faculty member on five other campuses (Five College consortium of Western MA), I feel fortunate to wear many hats in Interdisciplinary Studies at MCLA, where I also coordinate minors in Leadership Studies and Women’s Studies. My World of Work course provides career counseling by putting everyone’s question, “Who am I and Where Am I Going?” into cultural, historical, and philosophical context. Leading Women draws on intersectional women’s studies to shine a light on what’s missing from leadership studies, thus generating a more inclusive understanding of leadership. East Meets West moves beyond mindless Orientalism to cultivate the kind of mindfulness that fosters genuine cross-cultural engagement. Beyond MCLA, I provide private career coaching to PhDs exploring alternatives to faculty work, and as a singer-songwriter I front a folk/indie/rock band, Show of Cards. In my elusive free time, I do Zumba, yoga, or hike with my beloved dog Sadie, and enjoy cooking all kinds of cuisines. Amidst it all, I try to recharge with quiet time for me and quality time with my husband and sons—although they understand that Sadie comes first.

Research Interests

I have published on ethnic, literary and trauma studies; feminist science studies (with Banu Subramaniam), and diversity, pedagogy and the academic profession. My current interests revolve around intersectional and futuristic studies of work, leadership and higher education to explore how best to proceed in what Martha Beck calls the “wild new world” of the 21st century. Thus, I have considered the precariously employed new faculty majority through the lens of contemplative studies and J.K. Gibson-Graham’s A Postcapitalist Politics to suggest a “posttenure politics” for the ethical reform of higher education. My latest article brings together literatures on diversity, care work, and contingent faculty to analyze the gendered and racialized implications of teaching as caring labor. I am also part of the MCLA Leads initiative to integrate Design Thinking and/as community-based learning for maximum educational and regional impact; to that end, I am retooling my World of Work course as a “Design Your Life” opportunity and conducting ethnographic research on the diverse paths and interests of IDST students to discover how to best support the creative design of interdisciplinary majors—apt preparation for the complex problems and changing environments they will encounter upon graduation.


"On Trees and Liberal Arts" The Mind's Eye.  Winter 2016

“Academic Labor: Who Cares?” Critical Sociology. April 2016

“Assembling Asian/American Naturecultures: Orientalism and Invited Invasions” (with Banu Subramaniam). Journal of Asian American Studies 16:1 (February 2013).

“Chang-rae Lee’s Traumatic Palimpsest.” Inhabited by Stories: Critical Essays on Tales Retold. Edited by Nancy Barta-Smith and Danette Dimarco. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2012.

“Contemplating Contingency: Toward A Posttenure Politics.” Modern Language Studies 42 (2012).

“Mediating the Particular and the General: Ethnicity and Intertextuality in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Oeuvre.” In Naming Jhumpa Lahiri: Canons and Controversies. Eds. Floyd Cheung and Lavina Shankar. Lexington Books (Rowman and Littlefield), 2011.

“Genes, Genera, and Genres: The NatureCultures of Ruth Ozeki’s BioFiction” (with Banu Subramaniam). In Tactical Biopolitics. Eds. Kavita Philips, Beatrice Souza. MIT Press, 2008.

“Thinking Beyond the Department: Professional Development for Graduate Students of Color.” (2nd author, with Cathy Schlund-Vials, Matthew L. Ouellett, and Kirin Makker). The Journal of Graduate and Professional Student Development 11:1 (Spring 2008): 31-43.

“Essaying Democracy: The Post/Modern Intertexts of Kingston, Rodriguez, and Williams.” William Carlos Williams Review 27:1 (Spring 2007).

“When History Hurts: Racial Identity Development in the American Studies Classroom.”
American Studies 47: 3/4 (Fall/Winter 2006).

“Demystifying the Dissertation.” Profession 2006. New York: MLA, 2006.

“At the Museum of Natural Theory: The Experiential Syllabus (or, What Happens When Students Act Like Professors).” Pedagogy 6:3 (Fall 2006).

Recent Presentations

“From Mindless *Isms to Mindful Encounters: Contemplative Cultural Studies (with Morgan Valois '17).  Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education.  UMass Amherst. October 9, 2016.

 Major and Life Design for the Wild New World.” Design Inc. Colloquium. MCLA. Sept 24, 2016.

 “Re/Configuring Work in the Neoliberal University.” Five College Women’s Studies Research Center. Mount Holyoke College. September 16, 2016.

Work-Life Balance Under a 4:4 Load: Cross-Sector Partnership Conference. UMass Amherst, Oct 2015

“Ambiguous Kinship: Poetic History in Walter Benjamin, Joshua Corey, Susan Howe and William Carlos Williams.” American Literature Association. Boston MA. May 22, 2015.

“Leadership 101: Building Confidence, Dispelling Myths.”  New York Leadership Education Conference (NYLEC), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. June 2, 2014.

Prisons in Education: Appalachian Prisons Symposium. West Virginia University, April 2014


Contact Information

Office: 94 Porter Street, room 3



Office Hours Spring 2017

Tuesdays 3:30-5pm & Wednesdays 12:30-2pm
or by appointment



Ph.D., UMASS Amherst, 2005

M.Ed., Harvard University, 1993

B.A., Haverford College, 1988

Member of:

  • Association of American Studies
  • Association of Asian American Studies
  • Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education
  • Modern Language Association
  • National Women’s Studies Association
  • Society for Cultural Anthropology


Courses Taught

IDST 350: World of Work

IDST 360: Leading Women

IDST 360: East Meets West

IDST 200: Intro to Leadership Studies

WMST 201: Intro to Women's Studies

IDST 350: Rethinking the Third World


Creative work (discography)

Something Better (2013), Show of Cards

Leap Year (2009), Show of Cards

Waiting for You (2000), Chattering Magpies