All of Kara’s research is grounded in an examination of the social roles, cultural effects, implications, and ideologies articulated in literature, films, visual culture, and narratives and symbols of the past. She is particularly interested in the uses of history and understandings of the past, the ways interpretations of the past reflect ideologies, anxieties, and values of the present, and the ways these ideologies and anxieties are mapped onto visions of the future. All of her work interrogates the ways historical texts, popular culture, and public space mediate, reanimate, and transform meanings of American identity and belonging vis-à-vis the intersecting structures of class, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, and the relationship between the individual and society. She is fully committed to an interdisciplinary approach and believes that one needs to come at a question from a number of different perspectives in order to stake the most comprehensive claims and develop an understanding of culture in all its complex forms.
In her research, she engages with the methods utilized in a number of relevant fields, including history, critical historical studies, reception studies, film studies, critical media studies, literary studies, cultural studies, anthropology, critical heritage studies, and transnationalism. By exploring the meanings articulated through film and television, literature, popular media, and public space, her goal is to expose attitudes and beliefs around relations of power, individual and national identity, xenophobia, capitalism, technology, environmental degradation, and the nature of humanity itself.