A specialist in classic, premodern, and modern literature, and in narrative theory; she teaches courses in Japanese language, Japanese literature, and Japanese literature in translation and is director of Women's Studies at Wittenberg. A recipient of Phi Beta Kappa research awards and Japanese government scholarships, her research and professional papers have focused on contemporary Japanese women writers and the metaphoric use of figures from Japanese folklore in contemporary fiction. Christiansen received her B.A. at St. Olaf College and her M.A. and Ph. D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the Wittenberg faculty in 1993.