Picture of Karen Shaw

Karen Leigh Shaw


Professor of English


College of Arts and Sciences

Office Location:

Bristol Campus: Snider Honors Center 204

Office Phone:



There is this cave

In the air behind my body

That nobody is going to touch:

A cloister, a silence

Closing around a blossom of fire.

When I stand upright in the wind,

My bones turn to dark emeralds.

~James Wright~



My addiction to language began a long time ago, perhaps as far back as "see Spot run."  The deceptive simplicity of those first sentences led to the "harder stuff"--the intricacies of Shakespeare's sonnets, the craft of Austen's novels, the keen edge of Byatt's satire.  Yes, definitely addicted. I love language--its beauty, its nuance, its ability to make thought concrete, its power to move and challenge the human soul.

This addiction led naturally enough to degrees in English literature, first a bachelor's from King and then a master's and a Phd from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.  Following graduate school, I returned to King where I began teaching ESL.  In those years, I was privileged to work with students from more than 50 different countries.  That early experience continues to shape my work at King.  Thus, while I now teach English literature rather than ESL, the richness of my interaction with the international students contributes to my teaching of the interdisciplinary course Cultural Identity, to my interpretation of literature, and to my passion for study abroad.  



Ph.D. Drew University

M.Phil. Drew University

B.A. King University

Recent Publications and Presentations


King College, Bristol, Tennessee. “Nuns and a Persian Queen: Sensuality and Power in

Charlotte Brontë’s Villette.” King College Faculty Symposium, February 25, 2004.


King College, Bristol, Tennessee. “Narrative, Racism, and Cross-Cultural Encounter.” King

College Faculty Symposium, March 18, 2003.


West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia. “Narrative, Racism, and Cross-Cultural

Encounter.” 2002 WVU Colloquium on Literature and Film, October 2002.


West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia. “Wildfell Hall and the Artist as a

Young Woman.” 2000 WVU Colloquium on Literature and Film, October 13, 2000.


Taejon, South Korea. “Hannam Exchange Students and International Student

Programs at King College.” Hannam University Consortium Meeting, May 1999.



“A Space and Time to Work and Think: Faculty and Administrator Reflections.” Creating Sites

of Global Citizenship: The Mellon Fellow Community Initiative (2013): 86. Print.


"The Woman Question." Barter Insider 2.1 (Spring 2011): 4. Print.


Republication of "Wildfell Hall and the Artist as a Young Woman" in Nineteenth-Century

Literature Criticism: Excerpts from Criticism of the Works of Nineteenth-Century

Novelists, Poets, Playwrights, Short-Story Writers, and Other Creative Writers. Vol.

236. Gale/Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.


Wildfell Hall and the Artist as a Young Woman.” West Virginia Philological Papers 48

(2001): 9-17. Print.

Current research

As an outgrowth of my own travel and my participation in the Salzburg Global Seminar, I work with students and faculty to facilitate study abroad and to promote international education and global citizenship.  My current literary research interests focus on the narrative strategies of Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat. 

Courses recently taught

ENGL 2160 LECT Literature and American Identity
ENGL 3340 LECT English Grammar
ENGL 3360 LECT Religion and Literature
ENGL 3400 LECT A Survey of British Literature
ENGL 3450 LECT Renaissance and Restoration Literature
ENGL 3540 LECT British Romanticism and the Nineteenth Century
ENGL 4910 LECT English Capstone Seminar
HUMN 2171 LECT The Quest for a Meaningful Life
HUMN 2172 LECT The Quest for a Meaningful Life
ICST 2200 LECT Cultural Identity