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Lauri Kitsnik

Lauri Kitsnik

PhD Student, Japanese Studies


I graduated from the Estonian Institute of Humanities in 2004 with a thesis on Natsume Soseki and literary language of the late Meiji era. My first opportunity to study in Japan came in the turn of the millennium when I spent one year at Kyoto University. Later I lived in Japan for three more years and obtained a Masters degree from the University of Tokyo in 2007, this time writing on poetic theory of Hagiwara Sakutarō. After a stint at Tallinn University as a lecturer of modern Japanese culture I came to Cambridge in January 2011.

Subject groups/Research projects

Japanese Studies:

Research Interests

Current Research

I am writing my doctoral dissertation on screenwriting practices in Japan, their history, role in film production, and relationship with issues of spectatorship. Particular focus will be on the two periods commonly considered as Golden Ages of Japanese cinema: the 1930s and the 1950s. Observing films that are based on literary works will serve as a particularly useful device to arrive at a better understanding of screenwriter's work and role in the film industry.


Film history and theory, adaptation studies, screenwriting, star studies, visual phenomenology.


Key Publications

Journal Articles

“Gazing at Kaoru: star image in film adaptations of The Dancing Girl of Izu,Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, Volume 6, Issue 2, London: Routledge, 2014, pp. 1-16

“A Record of Repeated Gestures: Leitmotifs in Shindō Kaneto’s films,” Reflexive Horizons, April 2014

Book Chapters

“Japan”, “Mizuki Yōko” and “Tanaka Sumie” in Jill Nelmes and Jule Selbo (eds.) Women Screenwriters: An International Guide London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 (forthcoming)

Recent Conference Papers

“Lipreading and sleeptalking: The transition from silent to sound in the film scripts of Fushimi Akira” XIV Kinema Club Conference Tokyo, November 22, 2014

"Having another look: Functions of published screenplay during the Golden Age of Japanese cinema" Annual Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, San Diego, March 23, 2013

"A Record of Repeated Gestures: Leitmotifs in Shindo Kaneto's films" Annual Conference of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Chicago, March 9, 2013

"Women screenwriters and literary adaptation in 1950s Japanese cinema" 7th Annual International Conference of the Association of Adaptation Studies, York, September 28, 2012

"The many faces of a dancing girl: Literary adaptation and star image in Japanese cinema" Annual Conference of the British Association for Japanese Studies, Norwich, September 6, 2012

"Screenwriter on the Screen: Shindō Kaneto's The Story of a Beloved Wife" 8th European Association for Japanese Studies PhD Workshop, Newcastle, June 1, 2012

Invited Talks

“Like Novel, Like Film: Japanese literature on screen” Oxford Brookes University, October 30, 2013

"Dancer, Doctor, Virgin, Wife: Early star image of Kinuyo Tanaka" Kinuyo Tanaka Workshop, 26th Leeds International Film Festival, November 3, 2012

"Fidelity, High and Low: Japanese Cinema and Literary Adaptation" Japan Foundation, London, June 20, 2012

"Discursive functions of the screenplay in pre-war Japanese cinema" Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge, March 5, 2012

Selected Translations (into Estonian)

Fujii Sadakazu Titt maksab kätte 2010 (selected poems)

Tanikawa Shuntarō Sõnade asjatu flirt 2010 (selected poems)

Bei Dao Lumearmee 2007 (selected poems)

Natsume Sōseki “Mina olen kass“ in Vikerkaar 1-2/2003 (excerpt from Wagahai wa neko de aru)