Dr. Karen Dunak
Karen Dunak, a professor in the History Department, has been teaching at Muskingum University for three years. One thing that sets Muskingum apart, she says, is that “More than any other school I’ve taught at, I think Muskingum fosters a real connection between faculty and students. There are many more opportunities for student/faculty interaction, and I think there’s a real opportunity to cultivate close and long-lasting relationships over the years a student attends Muskingum.”
Dunak teaches U.S. history courses, as well as upper-level courses on gender and sexuality, the 1950s, youth in modern America and the American dream. She focuses on “the social and cultural history of the 20th century, with special focus on media and celebrity, youth culture and activism, and gender and citizenship.”
Dunak has written a book entitled As Long as We Both Shall Love: The White Wedding in Postwar America. “It stems from the research I conducted for my dissertation. I became interested in the wedding, in part, because I started getting invited to a lot of weddings when I was in my mid-twenties, and it seemed strange to me that a celebration marked by what I saw as very traditional and even old-fashioned components had maintained so much power despite tremendous social change.”
Dunak researched wedding traditions back to the 19th century and found that many traditions popular in weddings today were invented by the wedding industry in the early 20th century. “The biggest transformation, I argue, is in the increased authority of the bride and the groom to shape elements of the celebration to fit with their personal values and their individual ideas of what their celebration should be.”
Dunak’s book is scheduled to be published in summer 2013.