Karen takes deep pride in the accomplishments of her first husband, St. Olaf Professor and Miltonist Richard J. DuRocher, who died of cancer in 2010, and daughter Mary Clare DuRocher, who graduated from St. Olaf in 2016. In 2015 Karen married Bob Thacker, a leader in marketing and retail.
Karen has published articles on Middle English romance, the Latin poetry and vitae of women saints, Malory, and 15th-century book culture. Her books include Dear Sister: Medieval Women and the Epistolary Genre, Marriage, Adultery, and Inheritance in Malory’s Morte Darthur, and the Arthurian Way of Death. She is currently working on a project for scholars on grief in Malory and two projects for general audiences: a book on the epic and grief based on her 2016 Melby lecture, titled “The Tears of Things;” and with husband Bob a story on working with Michael Graves’ Architecture to create a purposefully replicable middle class home of “universal design” (that is, space works for people of physical abilities), tentatively titled “Building the Forever Home.”