I grew up in western New York state, in a family of very recent immigrants from the UK – which may have contributed to my fascination with languages and their diverse varieties. After an undergraduate degree in linguistics at Yale, I spent a year studying Chinese in Beijing, and then completed a PhD in Japanese literature at Columbia University. As part of that degree, I spent several years as a researcher at Waseda University in Tokyo and completed an MA there through their double-degree exchange program. I took up my current post in Oxford in 2013.
Teaching in Japanese is centrally organised in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, where I teach courses in classical Japanese language and literature, including the third-year classical course, unseen classical translation and kanbun (Chinese-style writing) for finalists, and options on texts ranging from the Tale of Genji to the poetry of Bashō. I also supervise DPhil students working on a range of topics in premodern Japanese literature and literary thought, as well as students on the MSt Japanese Studies and MPhil in Traditional East Asia who have chosen to specialise in premodern Japanese literary texts.
My research focuses on the reception of Chinese texts and modes of writing in early Japan, particularly in the Heian court of around the 10th-13th centuries – the age of iconic works like the Pillow Book and Tale of Genji, and of crucial developments in poetic and literary thought. I am interested in understanding how the practices of literacy surrounding Chinese-style texts were acquired and transmitted, how premodern Japanese readers and writers used these texts as a creative resource, and how these patterns fit into the broader comparative context of transregional literary languages in the premodern world.
Please see my Faculty webpage for research updates and a full list of publications.