Chatham University

History Faculty and Staff

Karen S. Kingsbury

Professor of International Studies

Hometown : Sutter Creek, CA
Joined Chatham : 2011

Academic Areas of Interest

Modern Chinese literature and film, Asian American literature and film, literary translation

Personal Areas of Interest

Travel, hiking, playing with dogs and children


I come to Chatham from the heart of South Carolina, where I spent four years rediscovering the pleasures of small town life: my first home was in the Californian foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, in a little town where I still have deep roots. Between those two places are the many years I spent in large cities: Seattle, New York, Taipei, Taichung, with shorter stints too in Chongqing, London, and Nantes.

My intellectual journeying has shuttled, also, between the U.S. and East Asia. I started to study Chinese a year after finishing my bachelor’s degree in English; it eventually became a lifelong pursuit. This adult-onset bilingualism has given me some advantages as a literary translator; it also has made me a devoted reader of writers and texts that work at the borders of, or serve as bridges between Anglophonic and Sinophonic experience.

Here at Chatham, my goals are at once broader and more student-oriented. My hope is that International Studies programs can help Chatham students at all stages of study reap the benefits of close engagement with seemingly far-away places. Those benefits, boiled down, come to this: a broader perspective on matters large and small; a deeper understanding of oneself and others; and a stronger, more purposeful sense of one's own power to act for the good of the world.