Seminar Series

“Premodern Japanese Studies” and Public Scholarship

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 | 9:00 - 10:00 (JST)
Zoom Webinar
  • Christina Laffin Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair in Premodern Japanese Literature and Culture, University of British Columbia
  • Mao Wada Researcher, Humanities Center, The University of Tokyo

This lecture will offer an overview of “Premodern Japanese Studies” in Canada and the US and an introduction to projects undertaken as “Public Humanities” initiatives. I will focus on the positioning of Japan and the Humanities at institutions in Canada, the US, and Japan and scholarly responses to perceived threats to the Humanities. How has the study of premodern Japan transformed over the past century and how is this linked to institutional structures and approaches such as Japanology, Japan(ese) studies, and transnational studies? How have scholars of premodern Japan tied their work to the influence of popular culture and political assertions of soft power? What potential is there for the “Public Humanities” framework to transform boundaries between disciplines or transcend traditional delineations between academic and public audiences. And can a better understanding of these issues offer any strategies for some of challenges Humanities scholars may face in Japan?


Christina Laffin researches diaries, tales, poetry, and travel writing by women in premodern Japan. She has written about the life of the medieval poet Nun Abutsu, coedited a bilingual book on nō drama, and coordinated the editing of the multi-volume anthology Gender and Japanese History. She recently collaborated with colleague Ross King and six graduate students to translate Saito Mareshi’s Kanbunkyaku to kindai Nihon. Current projects include a series of short videos on premodern Japan, a textbook on Japanese poetry, and a collaborative, illustrated collection on birth, life, and death in 1103 based on the courtier journal Chūyūki.