Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor of Japanese History and Literature, East Asian Languages & Cultures, Columbia University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1998
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Literature, Columbia University
The Origins of Writing in Early Japan: From the 1st to the 8th Century C.E.

Writing is a technology so fundamental that we take it for granted; it has therefore been largely ignored by modern linguists, literary scholars, and historians. In an attempt to fill in this missing piece of Japanese cultural studies, I examine the history of the Man'yôshû, Japan's great 8th century poetry anthology, in terms of its complex writing systems. My dissertation focuses on the circumstances of the anthology's inscription and the subsequent transformations in how it was read. It explores the nature of the writing systems of the Man'yôshû, the manuscript and commentarial traditions which are their afterlife, and the premodern and modern debates about writing and language which they produced.