Upcoming + Recent Events

Karen teaches courses, and delivers public lectures nationally and internationally on race, gender and sexuality studies in popular culture; on literature and critical theory; on karaoke scenes and technologies; on Los Angeles, the Southern California region, and the Pacific Rim; and on contemporary food cultures. For a comprehensive list of her academic lectures and presentations, visit her USC faculty profile. She also performs occasionally, either singing, acting, or playing the saxophone.


Thursday September 5 - 7 to 8:30pm at Bluestockings Bookstore, New York, NY

Karen will be in conversation with Mx. Justin Vivian Bond about Why Karen Carpenter Matters.

Saturday, September 7 - 8:30 to 10pm

Karen & Raquel Gutierrez will be hosting "street karaoke" on Hudson and Hollywood Blvd. for LOVE &/OR FEAR: A CELEBRATION OF GENDERS. The indoor/outdoor participatory event brings together 35+ artists, art collectives, and organizations to celebrate intersectional gender identities building community and launching a sexual harassment free zone in partnership with Peace Over Violence.

Saturday, September 28, Noon-6pm

Lambda Litfest - All the Feelings: A Celebration of Queer Emotion Main Day Celebration at Pico Union Project

Featuring readings and performances by Tegan & Sara, Katherine Agyemaa Agard, Charlie Jane Anders, Myriam Gurba, Dynasty Handbag, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Phranc, Tommy Pico, Danez Smith, and Karen Tongson. Karen will also be hosting karaoke to close out the festivities.

2019 book tour dates for why karen carpenter matters

If you’d like to bring Why Karen Carpenter Matters to your local bookstore or town, please contact Cameron Ludwick, UT Press Publicity and Communications Manager at cludwick@utpress.utexas.edu or 512-232-7633

Seattle, WA | Book Launch at Red Velvet Lounge, April 12 at 8pm (in coordination with MoPop’s annual Pop Conference)

Los Angeles, CA | L.A. Times Festival of Books, April 14 - 3pm at Wallis Annenberg Hall (USC)

Thousand Oaks, CA | Carpenters 50th Anniversary Celebration, Poolside at Palm Garden Hotel, April 24, 8pm

Los Angeles, CA | Weirdo Night with Dynasty Handbag, Zebulon, May 5 at 7pm

Oakland, CA | Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore, May 9 at 7pm 

Los Angeles, CA | Book Soup (West Hollywood) in conversation with Guy Branum, May 17 at 7pm

London, UK | King’s College London, in conversation w/ Paul Steinberg, sponsored by Queer@King’s, June 5 at 6pm

Brighton, UK | Marlborough Pub and Theater, sponsored by Sexual Dissidence at U of Sussex, June 10 at 5pm

Berlin, Germany | The.Word.Berlin, co-sponsored by Another Country Bookstore, June 25 at 7pm

Washington, D.C. | Politics & Prose, in conversation with Loren Kajikawa, June 29 at 1pm

San Francisco, CA | Booksmith, in conversation with Homay King, July 25 at 7:30pm

Los Angeles, CA | The Last Bookstore (DTLA), in conversation with Louis Virtel, August 27 at 7:30pm

New York, NY | Bluestockings Bookstore, September 5, in conversation with Justin Vivian Bond at 7pm

Riverside, CA | Back to the Grind, September 26 at 7pm

Los Angeles, CA | Lambda LitFest, September 28, time TBA

Philadelphia, PA | The Slought Foundation, in conversation with Homay King, October 9, time TBA

Washington, D.C. | Smithsonian National Museum of American History, “A Year in Music” program, October 15, Time TBA

Chicago, IL | Seminary Co-op, in conversation with Lauren Berlant, October 17 at 6pm

Austin, TX | Texas BookFest, October 26, time TBA



Public Lecture, “Listening Again: Karaoke’s Latchkey Aesthetics,” part of the Speaking Sound program series 
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE
August 8, 2019 (6-7:30pm)

Host, Cover Me: Karaoke and Imitation with Karen Tongson (Part of Triple Canopy’s Residence at the Hammer Museum)

A scholar and aficionado of karaoke, Karen Tongson hosts and introduces a karaoke session at the Pharaoh Lounge in Koreatown. Karen’s book in progress, Empty Orchestra: Karaoke in Our Time, explores the relationship between karaoke and the ways in which we perform and judge repetition and mimicry. As she notes, excellence in karaoke is understood as something other and better than karaoke; the form remains abject because of the association with immigrant communities, isolated geeks, “queens bereft of the piano bar’s liveness, slumming with an electronic delivery system for their show tunes, and other such ‘sad’ spectacles.”

Pharaoh Karaoke Lounge
3680 Wilshire Blvd, Suite B-02, Los Angeles CA, 90010
Wednesday, December 12, 2018.

Host, BERLIN featuring Terri Nunn in concert + in conversation with Karen Tongson at USC

Berlin’s gold-selling debut EP,  Pleasure Victims

Berlin’s gold-selling debut EP, Pleasure Victims

Join us for an exclusive concert and conversation with L.A.’s iconic synth pop pioneers Berlin, including original members Terri Nunn, John Crawford, and David Diamond! The event also features an intimate and rare conversation between the band, and USC professor Karen Tongson. Berlin’s gold-selling debut EP Pleasure Victim featured groundbreaking hits like “The Metro” and “Masquerade.” No one who watched MTV in the ’80s could forget their Bonnie and Clyde–inspired video for “No More Words.” And in 1986, the band received international acclaim for their chart-topping, Academy Award–winning “Take My Breath Away” from the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun. One of the most influential bands of the ’80s, Berlin continues to make exciting new music today. Only open to the USC community and their guests.

McCarthy Quad at the University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Thursday, October 11, 2018.

Speaker, Spa Night in the Purple Garden + Q&A with Andrew Ahn and Karen Tongson 

Film still from Andrew Ahn's  Spa Night , 2016. Starring Joe Seo, Youn Ho Cho, and Haerry Kim

Film still from Andrew Ahn's Spa Night, 2016. Starring Joe Seo, Youn Ho Cho, and Haerry Kim

GYOPO invites you to a screening of Andrew Ahn's film, Spa Night (2016), in the Purple Garden at The Underground Museum, followed by a conversation and Q&A between writer and director Andrew Ahn, and author, cultural critic, and podcaster Karen Tongson. Together, they will discuss queerness in the context of US Asian American, immigrant, and POC communities; how queerness flourishes and how it is monitored; how we grapple with ideas of homophobia in minority communities; and how queerness is translated across generations and traditions.

Purple Garden at The Underground Museum
3508 W Washington Blvd
Saturday, September 1, 2018.

Host, Dirty Looks: On Location 2018 | Queer Karaoke with Karen Tongson at Moonshadow 
In an homage to the spirit of MoonShadow, a lesbian bar that operated at the current site of The Other Door in the first decade of the 2000s, Women’s Center for Creative Work presents an evening of queer karaoke hosted by Karen Tongson. 

The Other Door
10347 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA
Monday, July 16, 2018

Performer (singing) Robots Liberate the Workforce: A Jennifer Moon Songbook
Presented by X-TRA: An evening of songs and readings orchestrated by Malik Gaines, drawing from the music he wrote with artist Jennifer Moon in the 1990s. Ham & Eggs Tavern, Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Roundtable | Soft and Stormy, from the 70s-90s with Ann Powers, Rashod Ollison, Emily Gale, and Jason King
Museum of Popular Culture, Seattle, WA
Friday, April 27, 2018

Performer (acting) Sorority Series at WxW, scene from Katie Liederman's Magic Hole 
WxW: A Community Celebration for LGBT Women and Their Allies                                                                                                       Barnsdall Art Park Theater, Los Angeles, CA
Sunday, April 22, 2018

Speaker |From the Women’s March to #MeToo: Gender and Activism in the U.S. Today                                                                       L.A. Times Festival of Books
USC Wallis Annenberg Hall (Auditorium)
Saturday, April 21, 2018

Keynote Panel | “Karaoke and the Politics of Vocal Imitation,” Embodying Intimacy: New Work on Voice and Performance
Washington University, St. Louis
February, 2018

Playing sax with Nao Bustamante at The Mayan

Playing sax with Nao Bustamante at The Mayan

Performer (saxophone) Variedades at the Mayan
Pacific Standard Time Festival: Live Art LA/LA with Nao Bustamante and Dynasty Handbag  Los Angeles, CA
January 18, 2018

Lecture | “Sound, Mimesis and Queer Aesthetics,” University of California, Davis Queer, Feminist, and Transgender Studies (QFT)
Research Cluster, Davis, CA
January 11, 2018

Producer and Co-Organizer | UnREAL: Making and Unmaking Gender, Race and Power for Television     
Visions and Voices at USC                                                             November 1, 2017                                                       


Exhibit walk-through of Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985 
Hammer Museum                                                                                                                                                                                      Los Angeles, CA
September 28, 2017

Keynote | Karen Tongson in Conversation with Filmmaker Robert Green,
Camra Penn Film Festival and Conference
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
March 17, 2017

Roundtable |  "Queer Truth: Nonfiction & Journalism in a Post-Truth World”
Lambda Literary Festival
Los Angeles, CA
March 11, 2017

Roundtable | Diversity in Hollywood
Outfest Fusion Film Festival
Los Angeles, CA
March 5, 2017

Producer | sSISTERSs: An Experimental Musical by Gina Young                                                                                                                Visions and Voices at USC                                                                                                                                                                       February 23 -24, 2017

Producer and Co-Organizer | The Transgender Tipping Point? Representing Gender Variance from Tangerine to Transparent              Visions and Voices at USC                                                                                                                                                                       November 2, 2016