Visiting Assistant Professor of Black Studies Karin Wimbley is a 1998 graduate of Hamilton College, a liberal arts college in Clinton, N.Y. After completing an M.A. in Humanities at the University of Chicago, she earned her Ph.D. in English at the University of Chicago in 2012.
The Knox Student: What was your undergraduate experience like?
Karin Wimbley: I majored in theater and minored in German … [and] studied abroad in Germany my junior year. What stays with me most about my undergraduate experience is that so much of what I learned from my professors happened outside of the classroom.
TKS: How did you end up getting a Ph.D. in Literature?
KW: Well, in truth, I was trying to decide whether or not to pursue acting further … because I loved the work and couldn’t see myself doing the nine to five thing. But I also couldn’t see myself doing the waiting-tables-in-New-York-waiting-for-my-big-break-thing either. My first graduate school program was interdisciplinary in nature, which meant I was free to explore my full range of intellectual interests, including German literature, philosophy and American literature. From there it was just a natural progression.
TKS: How did you end up teaching at Knox?
KW: Last spring I was on a panel of Ph.D. alums as a part of an event recruiting students of color to Ph.D. programs … at the University of Chicago. After the panel, I met [Professor of Black Studies] Dr. Fred Hord’s daughter. … She mentioned that her father was the founder of the Association of Black Culture Centers and thought we should be in contact.
TKS: What are your goals as a professor?
KW: I strive to help each student that walks into my classroom walk out with a stronger analytical skillset than when they came in. I want all my students to be rock stars out there in the real world … to be able to analytically and creatively think about the world around them and to actively decide what kind of world they want to live in.
TKS: What sort of research are you doing now?
KW: My research focuses on African American cultural production, specifically the aesthetic traditions in black literature, performance and visual culture. Right now I’m working on an article about Dave Chappelle’s racial pixie skit and the fiction of the “post-racial moment” in American society.
TKS: If one of your students had to write you a recommendation, what do you think they’d say?
KW: ‘She means well but she gives us too much writing’? I don’t know, I honestly don’t — I imagine they would say something like, ‘She’s challenging and has high expectations but tries to make herself available.’ … I think what people would focus on is that I like what I do; I like what I teach.