Karen M. Fraser is Assistant Professor of Asian Art in the Art History/Arts Management program at the University of San Francisco. Karen earned her PhD from Stanford University, where she studied both traditional Japanese art and the history of photography. Her research focuses on modern Japanese visual culture, with particular interest in Japanese photography from ca. 1860 through the 1930s, cross-cultural interactions and influences between Asia and the West, gender issues, and museum and exhibition history. She has presented her research widely at academic and museum venues in the United States and abroad, including Australia National University, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and the British Museum, and her recent publications include articles and reviews on a variety of topics in 19th and early 20th century Japanese photography as well as the monograph Photography and Japan (2011). Professor Fraser has been awarded grants from a number of international organizations, such as the Japan Foundation, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, the Association for Asian Studies, and the Stanford Institute for International Studies. She is currently working on two main research projects: one exploring transnational dialogues between early twentieth-century Japanese pictorial photographers and their counterparts in the United States and Britain, and the second examining various conceptualizations of photography as a “new media” in nineteenth-century Japan. An ongoing investigation of Japanese women’s attitudes towards and experiences with photography in the Meiji and Taisho eras (1868-1926) is another current research interest.

Prior to coming to USF, Prof. Fraser held academic appointments as Assistant Professor of Asian Art in the Department of Art and Art History at Santa Clara University; Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Comparative Culture, Sophia University, Tokyo; Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Research Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London; and Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Art & Art History at the University of South Florida. Her other professional activities include serving as the Japan editor for Brill Publishing’s Photography in Asia series. Her extensive teaching experience encompasses survey and upper-level courses covering both traditional and modern Asian art; cross-cultural encounters between Asian and Western art; museum history and practice; the second half of the Western survey; and study abroad courses in Paris exploring the rich history of Parisian museums. As part of her teaching practice she has worked with students to organize several exhibitions of Japanese woodblock prints, and has facilitated intern placements at a number of Bay Area arts organizations.

PhD, Art History, Stanford University
MA, Art History, University of South Florida
BS, Communications and Art History, University of Miami

Fraser, K. (2017). "From Private to Public: Shifting Conceptions of Women's Portrait Photography in Late Meiji Japan." In Portraiture and Early Studio Photography in China and Japan, eds. Luke Gartlan and Roberta Wue, London: Taylor and Francis Group.

Fraser, K. (2014). "Fukuhara Shinzō and the 'Japanese' Pictorial Aesthetic." Review of Japanese Culture and Society, 26, 209-227.

Fraser, K. (2012). “Beauty Battle: Politics and Portraiture in Late Meiji Japan (1868-1912).” In Visualizing Beauty: Gender and Ideology in East Asia, ed. Aida Yuen Wong, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

Fraser, K. (2011). Photography and Japan, London: Reaktion.