Kristen B. Waha

Associate Professor of English
All FacultyEnglish

Contact Information
Phone: 724-458-3389

Kristen B. Waha

What is your educational background?

  • Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Davis, 2015
  • B.A. in English from Westmont College, 2006

What are the main focuses of your research?

My research and training centers on 19th century literatures from Victorian Britain, India, and France and colonial/postcolonial studies. My dissertation research examined the nexus between religious conversion and women’s educational reform in British and colonial Indian novels and autobiographies written in English, French, and Tamil in the mid-to-late 19th century. I am also interested in the translation and circulation of literary texts in this period between colonial contexts and the European metropoles of London and Paris.

What specific courses or specialties do you teach?
I teach courses in Victorian and modern European literatures, as well as comparative World literature survey courses focused on the literatures of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, from ancient to the contemporary period.

I enjoy studying the literary histories and aesthetics of texts around the world because literature from diverse traditions teaches me to read differently and notice new things about the beauty and sometimes the brokenness of the world. It is a pleasure to walk alongside students as they encounter new ideas and gain a broader perspective on Christian and other faith traditions in a variety of cultural contexts through the medium of literature.

What is the most important piece of advice you give students to help them succeed?

Reading literature from an unfamiliar cultural context can be a daunting and also exhilarating experience. I encourage students to learn as much as they can about the specific contexts in which each work was written and received, and we explore these contexts through lectures on history and culture and discussions of images from the visual arts and author interviews. However, I also invite students to analyze each work for themselves and tackle the questions each texts raises through in-class discussion. Approaching a text with both humility and boldness can lead to a rich encounter with a new perspective that allows students and the instructor to think critically and charitably about the issues it might raise.

Selected Publications

  • “Conversion as Translation: Synthesizing Hindu and Christian ethics in A. Madhaviah’s Indian English novel Clarinda (1915).” Victorian Literature and Culture. (Forthcoming).
  • “Tamil ‘Translation,’ French Orientalism, and Indian Dramatic Traditions in Louis Jacolliot’s La Devadassi (1868).” Reading the Past Across Time and Space: Receptions and World Literature. Palgrave Macmillian, 2016.