Valerie Karno

  • Associate Professor, Director of GSLIS
  • Phone: 401.874.4682
  • Email:
  • Office Location: 308C Swan Hall


Born and raised in Los Angeles, Valerie Karno grew up with film, television, and music as part of her self-constitution. With a B.A. from UC Berkeley in English, she then received a J.D. from Hastings College of the Law. There she was Editor-in-Chief of both the International and Comparative Law Review, and the Women’s Law Journal. During law school she published essays on the CITES treaty, and feminist legal theory.

Then, with her M.A. from the Univ. of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from USC, her interests in Critical Race and Legal Theory were integrated with her ongoing thinking about visual culture. Having worked in the film and music video industries, and having made her own music video, she has published on topics ranging from the so-called “serial killer” Aileen Wuornos, (in Critical Matrix: The Princeton Journal of Women, Gender, and Culture) to how notions of hunger get deployed in treaties with Native Americans, (in College Literature) to how representations of race in daytime televised small claims court shows re-invigorate legal agency. (in Studies in Law, Politics, and Society). She has also published book reviews on 9/11 in the online journal Postmodern Culture, and on Anti-Discrimination Laws in American Quarterly.

Her courses reflect the range of her interests. She has taught “Law & Literature,” (ENG 356/HPR 319) (for which she was featured recently in the national Law Magazine Lawyers Weekly) “Immigrant Women Authors,” (ENG 260), “Literature & Democracy,” (ENG 590L), “Envisioning America” (ENG 590G), Postmodernism of the Americas (ENG 545), the Cultural Studies Capstone Course (ENG 498), Postmodernism (ENG 378), Antebellum Literature (ENG 347), and Introduction to Literary Studies (both ENG 201 and 202.)

Karno works as a Pre-Law and Honors advisor at URI, and is involved with the Multicultural Center in moderating speaking events and conducting Diversity workshops related to law. She has received numerous publishing and teaching awards, the most enriching of which recently was an NEH award to study Punishment with Austin Sarat.


Law and Literature; Contemporary U.S. Ethnic Literature; American Studies; Film & Television; Gender Studies


  • Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2000
  • J.D., Hastings Law School, 1991