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Dr Rebekah Clements

Dr Rebekah Clements

Director of Studies in Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Corpus Christie College

DEAS Research Associate, Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies


Altogether I have spent about six years in Japan, including four as a student, but it was at high school in rural Australia that I first studied Japanese.  There, I was fortunate to be taught by Judy Smith, a gifted teacher whose extension classes introduced me to Japanese fiction for the first time. Madogiwa no Tottochan led, many years later, to Genji monogatari

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2004 Bachelor of Law, Australian National University
2004 Bachelor of Asian Studies (Specialist, Japanese), Honours (1st class), Australian National University
2004 University Medal in Asian Studies, Australian National University
2008 Master of Arts (Japanese Literature), Waseda University
2011 PhD Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge
2011 Leverhulme Trust Research Grant, Named Research Associate (3 years)
2011 Research Associate, Clare College, University of Cambridge
2012 Junior Research Fellowship, Queens’ College, University of Cambridge

Subject groups/Research projects

Japanese Studies:

Research Interests

The cultural history of early-modern Japan, the history of translation in Japan, classical Japanese literature, script and scribal traditions. 

Other Professional Activities

Teaching Interests

I taught at AMES from 2009 to 2014, being responsible for supervisions, seminars and lectures on Japanese history, literature and translation during that time. I also gave a seminar on Asian translation traditions for the MPhil program.  For three years I taught the second year textual translation class, and for the first year East Asian history course I  lectured on Nara and Heian history as well as giving seminars on The Tale of Genji, The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu and the early history of Japanese written texts.

Current Projects

In my monograph on the history of translation in Tokugawa Japan (1600-1868), I argue against the standard practice of giving Japan’s Meiji period (1868-1912) star billing as the era of translation, and consider the once “isolated” Tokugawa period in light of the large numbers of translations that burst into circulation with the growth of vernacular Japanese literacy from the seventeenth century onwards.  My next project extends this work on translation history in order to reshape our understanding of the history of Chinese language learning and cultural exchange in late seventeenth and early eighteenth century East Asia. I am investigating the linguistic and religious networks of exchange that linked seventeenth and early eighteenth century Japanese elites with Chinese monks and exiles from the Ming dynasty then present in Japan.


Listen to Rebekah Clements speak about Japan's Sakoku Period on BBC Radio4, "In Our Time."

Key Publications

A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan. Cambridge University Press, 2015 (available here).

"Rewriting Murasaki: Vernacular Translation and the Reception of Genji Monogatari during the Tokugawa Period." Monumenta Nipponica 68:1 (2013), pp.1-36.

Suematsu Kencho and the First Translation of Genji monogatari into English: Translation, tactics and ‘The Women’s Question.” Japan Forum, vol.23 (1), 2011, 25-47.

With Peter Kornicki,“The Latter Days of the Genji.” Monumenta Nipponica 64, no.2, 2009, 363-372.

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