OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Karen Lystra

Portrait of Karen Lystra

A professor of American studies at California State University, Fullerton, Karen Lystra is a nineteenth-century cultural and social historian with a special interest in class, gender, the history of emotions, and private life. The cultural values, rituals, ideologies, and behavior surrounding courtship, marriage, and sexuality are examined in her first book, Searching the Heart: Women, Men, and Romantic Love in Nineteenth-Century America (1989). Her second book, Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain’s Final Years (2004), is a biography focused on the pivotal role that Twain’s inner circle, particularly his youngest daughter Jean, played in the last years of his life. Lystra is currently working on a book about nineteenth-century working-class Americans.

OAH Lectures