My courses at Wesleyan’s College of East Asian Studies range from ancient Japanese myths to Asian-American identity. Recently, I’ve particularly enjoyed my new courses on samurai as a site for expressing Japanese identity, and on foundations of East Asian cultures as a way to consider what constitutes contemporary Asian identities not only in Asian countries, but here in the United States. “Japanese Culture through Food” is now a classic course of mine, although each iteration with new members and materials gives me fresh insights.
My first book, Flowering Tales: Women Exorcising History in Heian Japan, presents a new reading of A Tale of Flowering Fortunes, a historical tale dating to the early eleventh-century. I argue that the rise of tale literature, namely The Tale of Genji, allowed for the writing of new type of history in the hands of court women, one that worked through affect to effect peace.
I am now working on a second book on premodern Japanese attitudes toward food and eating. Some of my preliminary work on this topic can be found in a chapter in Devouring Japan (ed. Nancy Stalker, Oxford University Press, 2007).
In examining its depictions of food, I have come to be more and more intrigued with Utsuho monogatari (The Tale of the Hollow Tree), and am starting to translate this tale. For some reason, I seem to be drawn to long, “novelistic” books.
Initially, I am setting up this website to share my translation of the zokuhen, the last ten chapters of A Tale of Flowering Fortunes, but finally, as of December 2020, I am gradually starting to upload some of the fascinating work my students have been producing. The views expressed therein are theirs alone, although undoubtedly shaped by my class. If you have any comments, please write to me at my university e-mail address.