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Dr Laura Moretti

Dr Laura Moretti

University Lecturer in Pre-Modern Japanese Studies

Director of Studies at Emmanuel College

Office Phone: 01223 335148



After a BA and an MA in Japanese Studies at Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia (Italy), in 2003 I earned a PhD at the same university. Following the Italian practice at the time, I spent the first two years of my PhD course studying at Tokyo University as a research student (kenkyūsei) with the help of a Monbukagakusho Scholarship. My study focused on Edo-period literature and I was trained mainly by Profs Nobuhiro Shinji and Nagashima Hiroaki. I pursued and further strengthened my interests in 17th-century Japanese prose by working with Prof Fukasawa Akio (Shōwa Joshi Daigaku) and Oka Masahiko (NIJL and Sophia University).

I have many years of teaching/research experience. I started as a Teaching and Research Associate at Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia (2003-2005), then became a Lecturer at the same university (2005-2010), while also working as an Adjunct Professor at Università degli Studi di Bergamo (2006-2010). My teaching covered various aspects of Japanese Studies, namely pre-modern and early-modern Japanese literature, classical Japanese and modern Japanese language at both undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2010 I joined the School of Modern Languages at Newcastle University (UK). The interdisciplinary and multicultural environment and, in particular, the privilege of working with two German medievalists/early-modernists (Prof Henrike Lahenemann and Dr Elizabeth Andersen) nurtured some of the theoretical aspects of my research on Japanese early-modern prose. I was invited to be a visiting scholar at the University of British Columbia (2008), Keio University (2009), Leiden University (2009), Leuven University (2009), Ritsumeikan University (2010).

I have been Secretary of the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists from 2008 to 2012. 

I am a member of the Extended Council of the European Association of Japanese Studies (since 2011).



Undergraduate teaching

Pre-modern Japanese (J7 and J14)

In Cambridge I currently teach pre-modern Japanese  (J7 - elementary level and J14 advanced level).  Cambridge is the only place in the UK where pre-modern (classical) Japanese is taught in a non-canonical way. In J7 You learn the classical grammar by reading engaging, quirky and often funny texts, starting from the late Edo period and going back to the Hein period. This new teaching method has proved greatly enjoyable to the students while allowing a rigorous and solid knowlegde of pre-modern grammar and vocabulary. J14 accommodates your interests and allows you to explore topics that are related to aspects of contemporary Japan (for example graphic prose) as well as more general intellectual issues (for example translation in historical context). They are both taught in seminar style and are highly engaging. They are also designed in such a way that your modern Japanese will also improve. 

Japanese texts (J3) 

This is a paper that is taught in seminar-style during the third term of your first year (the so-called 'Easter Term'). We read and translate short-short stories from contemporary Japanese writers. The paper is aimed at teaching you the skills to become able to read real-world materials and to develop abilities in translating them from Japanese into English. 

For official information about the above papers, please refer to the Undergratuate Handbook. 


Postgraduate teaching


I welcome projects on Japanese literature, intellectual history, textual scholarship, book history, translation studies and popular culture (with a focus on the Edo period and with or without connection with contemporary Japan).

For official information about the above papers, please refer to the Undergratuate Handbook. 

Current MPhil/PhD students

Mr Frederick Feilden

Mr Feilden is writing a ground-breaking MPhil dissertation on an a piece of graphic prose entitled 'Some wake yoi fujin' (around 1781) which is an erotic rewriting of two kabuki plays. Mr Feilden is producing the critical edition and the annotated English translation of the text, while engaging with compelling intellectual issues such as intertexuality, isotextuality, the multiplicity of reading pleasures, etc. Mr Feilden has been accepted to access the PhD programme from next academic year (2014-15). 


I am also running, with Prof Yamabe Susumu, the ‘Graduate summer school on early-modern written Japanese' which teaches how to read hentaigana/kuzushiji, sorobun and kanbun. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS


Subject groups/Research projects

Japanese Studies:

Research Interests






Other Professional Activities


Graduate workshops for hentaigana, kuzushiji, sorobun and kanbun:

I am deeply engaged in teaching how to read Japanese calligraphy (hentaigana, kuzushiji and sorobun) in order to access and decode manuscript and printed texts produced until the begining of the twentieth century. I am regularly teaching an intensive one-week course at The University of Pennsylvania in the summer. To read more click HERE. The next workshop will take place between 22-25 July 2014. Please click HERE for the Call for Interest. 

I am also launching a graduate summer school at Emmanuel College where, in tandem with Prof Yamabe Susumu from Nishogakusha University, we are teaching a two-week intense course for reading hentaigana/kuzushiji, sorobun and kanbun. For the 'Call for interest' click HERE. A website is under construction. 



I actively participate in international conferences as well as organize them. Click HERE for details. 



Key Publications


2013  ‘Onna enshi kyōkun kagami and Onna genji kyōkun kagami: sexual education through entertaining parody’, Japan Review 26, Special Issue on Shunga, pp. 195-212.

2012   ‘The Japanese early-modern publishing market unveiled: a survey of Edo-period booksellers’ catalogues’, East Asian Publishing and Society, 2/2, pp. 199-308.

2011    ‘Kanazōshi revisited: reconsidering the beginnings of Japanese popular literature in print’Monumenta Nipponica, 65/2, pp. 297-356.

2010  近世初期・前期の散文文学における『伊勢物語』の書き直し、パロディーおよび新展開 (‘Kinsei shoki – zenki no sanbun bungaku ni okeru Ise monogatari no kakinaoshi, parodi oyobi shin tenkai), in Yamamoto Tokurō e Joshua Mostow (eds.), 伊勢物語創造と変容 (Ise monogatari sōzō to hen’yō), Osaka, Izumi shoin, pp. 269-301.

2009    Japan Forum 21 (3): guest editor of special issue on ‘Narrativity and fictionality in Edo-period prose literature’, pp. 116.

2009    ‘On the edge of narrative: towards a new view of the 17th-century popular prose in print, Japan Forum 21 (3), pp. 325-345.

Other Publications