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Karen Ordahl Kupperman

professor, history, NYU

Karen Ordahl Kupperman was born on April 23, 1939, in Devils Lake, North Dakota, of Swedish and Norwegian ancestry. Her mother was principally a homemaker; her father was a colonel in the United States Army. Kupperman attended elementary school in Fort Benning, Georgia, and then in Fargo, North Dakota. She attended junior high school in Fargo and then in U.S. Army schools in Japan, and high school in Springfield, Missouri. Her favorite childhood books were a boxed set of Grimm's and Andersen's fairy tales, and she loved them because of the distant worlds they recreated. Karen's most important early influence, though, was the experience of living in different parts of the country during World War II and again in her teenage years. When she was twelve, her father's national guard regiment was called up and sent to the southeast corner of Alabama, a place, she recalls, "that was about as different culturally from North Dakota as possible within the United States." Much shocked and surprised her, and the young Karen became interested in different historical experiences of regions of the United States. The year she spent in Japan when she was fourteen also gave her firsthand experience in cultural difference and insights into the ways culture is constructed. Karen Kupperman attended the University of Missouri, earning a bachelor's degree in history in 1961. History has always been her favorite subject. After college she went to Harvard on a Woodrow Wilson fellowship, but like many women she felt stifled by the academic atmosphere and left after earning a master's degree there in 1962. "When my children were young," she writes, "I began teaching as an adjunct at the University of Connecticut, and realized that my real interest lay in teaching and writing history. Therefore my husband and children and I went to Cambridge for two years, which is the required residency for the Ph.D." Kupperman completed the Ph.D. at Cambridge in 1978. Following her completion of the doctorate, Kupperman accepted a position at the University of Connecticut. From 1980 to 1981, she was a Mellon Faculty Fellow at Harvard University. She stayed at the University of Connecticut until 1995, when she was named professor of history at New York University. For the academic year 1995--96, however, she is the Times-Mirror Foundation Professor at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. [Source: http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4696/Kupperman-Karen-Ordahl-1939.html]