Karen Houppert, Associate Director, Sr. Lecturer
Associate Director of the MA in Writing, Nonfiction Writer
Karen Houppert was a contributing writer for The Washington Post magazine for several years and now freelances for many magazines, covering social and political issues.
A former staff writer for The Village Voice for nearly ten years, she has won several awards for her coverage, including a 1991 National Women’s Political Caucus Award for feature writing, a 2003 Newswomen’s Club of New York “Front Page Award,” a 2011 Council on Contemporary Families Media Award for Print, and 2015 and 2016 Maryland/DC/Delaware Press Association Award — as well as bringing in 18 MDDC journalism awards for her staff that year while she served as editor in chief of Baltimore City Paper. She was twice an ASME National Magazine Award finalist and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016 for her essay “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Interrupted.”
She has won numerous fellowships, grants and residencies including a 2013 John Jay/H.F. Guggenheim Reporting Fellow, a 2012 John Jay Public Welfare Reporting Fellow, a 2008 Kaiser Media Fellow, multiple Nation Institute Investigative grants, a 2010 Lucy Grealy memorial writing grant, a Casey Journalism fellowship, a MacDowell Colony residency, two Mabou Mines artist residencies, and a New York State Council on the Arts grant.
Houppert’s reporting has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The Washington Post Magazine, The New York Times, Newsday, Baltimore City Paper, The Nation, Slate, Salon, Mother Jones, The Village Voice, Ms, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Redbook, Self, and Parenting—and many other media outlets.
She is the author of three nonfiction books, a contributor to five, and co-author of the Obie-award winning play “Boys in the Basement” based on her trial coverage of rape in Glen Ridge, New Jersey—as well as several other plays.
Her first book, The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo, Menstruation (pub Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999) is an investigation of the sanitary protection industry and an exploration of the cultural history of menstruation. Houppert’s second book, Home Fires Burning: Married to the Military—for Better or Worse (pub Ballantine, 2005) chronicles a year in the life of various military wives whose husbands are deployed in the Middle East to see how feminism has and has not kept pace with military family policy. Her most recent book, Chasing Gideon: The Elusive Quest for Poor People’s Justice, takes the pulse of the public defense system 50 years after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Gideon v. Wainwright and was selected as one of the Top 10 Books Investigative books of 2013 by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
She has also worked as an editor at several publications including Baltimore City Paper, Urbanite Magazine, The Village Voice, The Bennington Review.
Houppert has her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Her website is karenhouppert.net.