University Lecturer in Pre-Modern Japanese Studies
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).
In Cambridge I mainly teach courses related to classical Japanese and early-modern literature. I welcome enquiries to supervise students who are interested in doing research in these fields. I am currently based in Emmanuel College, as Director of Studies for AMES. I am also the Secretary of the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS) and a member of the Council of the European Association for Japanese Studies (EAJS), 2011-.
My research focuses on Edo-period prose literature and my current research project deals with a rethinking of 17th-century popular prose in the vernacular. The project fills a conspicuous gap in current secondary literature on Edo-period popular prose, by dealing with the vast prose production that preceded Ihara Saikaku. This is a field which has been substantially neglected both in Japan and in the West as deemed to be inferior in quality when compared to the achievements of Saikaku as a ‘modern novelist’ and as ‘literature’. My research explores this forgotten field by reconstructing the ‘Great Unread’ of 17th-century prose and by examining its features. I pursue this aim by applying the ‘distant reading’ (as defined by Franco Moretti, 2000) and the close reading of a conspicuous number of texts relegated to the oblivion of the libraries’ dusty stockpiles. But not only that. This project also challenges various assumptions taken for granted in the study of this literary production. It denies the search for ‘novel-like’ prose and advocates the understanding of the features of a prose which was the product of the new publishing market. It questions the idea of ‘literature’ taken for granted in this field and works within a new view of literature and of literary history which is “less belletristic, less positivist, less elitist, more inclusive, and more determined to read the cultural texts that priestly literary histories were anxious to ignore” (Paul Hunter, 1997). It repositions Saikaku in this wider context and calls into question the misleading and un-historical recognition of kanazōshi and ukiyozōshi. This project engages with the concept of ‘popular literature’ and wishes to become a contribution not only to Japanese Studies but also to the field of popular culture which has been growing internationally following the ground-breaking work of Peter Burke.
My critical discourse is deeply anchored to the study of primary sources. Therefore I have produced various critical editions of Japanese early-modern texts, accompanied by a textual analysis. Among others I have worked on Chikusai ryōji no hyōban (1684), Hyō (1662), Fushinseki (1665), Bokusai banashi isha hyōban (1695). I consider the teaching of hentaigana and kuzushiji as an important part of my teaching mission. I have always encouraged students to organize weekly reading sessions and I have been running various workshops in this area (The British Library, University of Pennsylvania, 2012).
The study of the history of the book in early-modern Japan, the analysis of intertextuality throughout the Edo period, the examination of the process of vernacularization and the study of didactic literature, as well as an interest in another forms of popular prose, namely kusazōshi, are research interests which stem from and feed into the current research project.
I have a deep interest in Japanese descriptive bibliography, nurtured by study conducted under the supervision of Prof Hashiguchi Kōnosuke and through the participation in the “Tenri Antiquarian Materials Workshop” (2007-2009). I continue to cultivate this interest by a practical involvement in the cataloguing of Japanese antiquarian materials. I catalogued part of the Marega Collection (2005-2011) and am currently engaged in a joint cataloguing project at The British Library with Hamish Todd, Lead Curator for Japanese and Korean Studies.
2003 Chikusai il ciarlatano, Cafoscarina, Venezia, pp. 192.
[Annotated Italian translation of the Kan’ei-era (1624-44) edition of Chikusai accompanied by a 12,000-word textual-analysis introductory essay. This monograph is based on the first part of my PhD thesis and its Appendix 1.]
Journal special issues
2009 Japan Forum 21 (3): guest editor of special issue on ‘Narrativity and fictionality in Edo-period prose literature’, pp. 116.
Academic articles in refereed journals and academic edited volumes
2013 ‘Seventeenth-century popular prose production in the Kamigata region’ (provisional title), in Haruo Shirane (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japanese Literature (by invitation)
2013 Column on hanashibon and karukuchibon, in Haruo Shirane (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japanese Literature (by invitation)
2013 ‘Onna enshi kyōkun kagami and Onna genji kyōkun kagami: sexual education through entertaining parody’, Japan Review (special issue edited by Andrew Gerstle and Timothy Clark - forthcoming).
2012 ‘The Japanese early-modern publishing market unveiled: a survey of Edo-period booksellers’ catalogues’, East Asian Publishing and Society (forthcoming October 2012).
2012 Critical edition of Chikusai ryōji no hyōban 竹斎療治之評判 (1685), in Fukasawa Akio (ed.), Kanazōshi shūsei 仮名草子集成, vol. 48, Tōkyō, Tōkyōdō shuppan.
2011 ‘Kanazōshi revisited: reconsidering the beginnings of Japanese popular literature in print’, Monumenta Nipponica, 65/2, pp. 297-356.
2010 ‘Kinsei bungaku to Ise monogatari – Ise monogatari no mojiri to tsūzokuteki bungaku e no shintō’ 近世文学と『伊勢物語』―『伊勢物語』のもじりと通俗的文学への浸透 (‘Edo-period literature and Ise monogatari – minimal parodies of Ise monogatari and its appropriation in popular literature’), in Yamamoto Tokurō 山本登朗, Ise monogatari kyōju no tenkai 伊勢物語―享受の展開 (‘Ise monogatari. Reception and evolution’), Tokyo, Chikurin, pp. 342-352.
2010 ‘Un rebus di sapienti bugie: Ono no Bakamura uso ji zukushi e la ‘parodia globale’ nella letteratura di periodo Edo’ (Ono no Bakamura uso ji zukushi and the global parody in Edo-period literature), in Un’isola in Levante. Saggio in onore di Adriana Boscaro, ScriptaWeb.
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 ‘On the edge of narrative: towards a new view of the 17th-century popular prose in print, Japan Forum 21 (3), pp. 325-345.
2009 ‘Blurred boundaries: narrativity and fictionality in Edo-period prose literature’, introduction to the special issue of Japan Forum 21 (3), pp. 299-305.
2008 ‘Appropriating Urban Space. Kyoto and Edo in Japanese prose of the 17th Century’, in Marco Ceresa (ed.), Città d’Oriente, Venezia, Cafoscarina, pp. 53-87.
2007 ‘Fushinseki no honkoku to kaisetsu. Kinsei shoki no haiburiddo bungaku no ichirei’『ふしんせき』の翻刻と解説－近世初期の「ハイブリッド文学の一例」 (‘Transcription and analysis of Fushinseki. An example of hybrid literature in the early Edo period), Bungaku kenkyū 文学研究, 95, pp. 136-188.
2006 ‘Un fondo particolarmente pregiato’ (presentation of the Mario Marega Collection of Edo Period Rare Books and Manuscripts), in Juan Picca (ed.), Biblioteca Don Bosco, Futura Grafica, Roma, pp. 35-41.
2006 ‘Il Fondo Marega: contenuti, potenzialità e significati della collezione di un singolare missionario nipponista’, in Salesianum, n. 4, pp. 745-782.
2005 ‘Mario Marega bunko shozō kurohon – aohon Fujito mondō ni tsuite. Fukusei, honkoku Itariagoyaku, kaisetsu’ マリオ・マレガ文庫所蔵黒本・青本『〔ふぢともんどう〕』」（『藤戸問答』）について―複製・翻刻・イタリア語訳・解釈」(‘Facsimile, transcription, Italian translation and analysis of the aobon Fujito mondōkept at the ), Kokusai koraborēshon ni yoru Nihon bungaku kenkyū shiryō jōhō no soshikika to hasshin国際コラボレーションによる日本文学研究資料情報の組織化と発信, edited by Kokubungaku kenkyū shiryōkan, pp. 1-35.
2004 ‘Tōyō bunko shozō Hyō - honkoku to kaishaku’ 東洋文庫所蔵『ひやう』翻刻と解釈 (‘Transcription and analysis of Hyō), Kinsei shoki bungei近世初期文芸, 21, pp. 38-77.
2004 ‘Bokusai banashi isha hyōban ron (ge) – chikusaimono no hitotsu to shite’『木斎咄医者評判』論（下）―「竹斎もの」の一つとして (‘Bokusai banashi isha hyōban as part of the intertextual serialization sprouted from Chikusai – second part’), Bungaku kenkyū 文学研究, 92, pp. 29-38.
2004 ‘Shiba zenkō ga chie no hodo – honkoku, chūshaku, itariagoyaku’『芝全交智恵之程』― 翻刻・注釈・イタリア語訳 (‘Shiba zenkō ga chie no hodo: transcription, commentary and Italian translation’), Kokusai koraborēshon ni yoru Nihon bungaku kenkyū shiryō jōhō no soshikika to hasshin 国際コラボレーションによる日本文学研究資料情報の組織化と発信, edited by Kokubungaku kenkyū shiryōkan, pp. 1-47.
2003 『木斎咄医者評判』論（上）―「竹斎もの」の一つとして (‘Bokusai banashi isha hyōban ron (jō) – chikusaimono no hitotsu to shite’), 『文学研究』(Bungaku kenkyū), 91, pp. 59-78.
2003 ‘Chikusai rō takara no yamabuki iro – honkoku, chūshaku, itariagoyaku’『竹斎老宝山吹色』― 翻刻・注釈・イタリア語訳, Kokusai koraborēshon ni yoru Nihon bungaku kenkyū shiryō jōhō no soshikika to hasshin国際コラボレーションによる日本文学研究資料情報の組織化と発信, edited by Kokubungaku kenkyū shiryōkan, Tōkyō, March 2003, pp. 1-52.
2002 ‘Quando la creazione si fa allusiva: la retorica testuale dello shukō nelle forme narrative del periodo Tokugawa’, Asiatica Venetiana, 5, pp. 59-84.
[This article defines the two concept of sekai and shukōin the production of gesaku.]
2002 ‘Kyōto daigaku fuzoku toshokan shozō Bokusai banashi isha hyōban: honkoku to kaidai 京都大学付属図書館所蔵『木斎咄医者評判』翻刻と解題 (‘Transcription and bibliographical analysis of Bokusai banashi isha hyōban kept at the Kyoto University Library’), Bungaku kenkyū文学研究, 90, pp. 101-136.
2001 ‘Chikusai ryōji no hyōban ron – hyōban no keitai to sono imi’『竹斎療治之評判』論 ― 評判の形態とその意味 (‘Chikusai ryōji no hyōban: the role and the meaning of a meta-textual narration’), Kinsei shoki bunge 近世初期文芸, 18, pp. 47-68.
2000 ‘Nise monogatari - parodi to kokkei’『仁勢物語』― パロディと滑稽」), in Howard Hibbett (ed.), Warai to sōzō 笑いと創造, Benseisha, Tōkyō, pp. 43-59.
2000 ‘Chikusai ryōji no hyōban - honkoku to kaidai’ 『竹斎療治之評判』翻刻と解題 (Transcription and bibliographical analysis of ‘Chikusai ryōji no hyōban’), Kinsei shoki bungei 近世初期文芸, 17, pp. 37-57.
‘The Marega Collection Japanese Rare Books Digital Catalogue’
Online catalogue started in September 2008; available online at
[This is the online catalogue of part of the Marega Collection of Edo-period printed books. The catalogue applies an originally conceived bibliographical card that adapts the bibliographical rules determined by Tenri Library and NACSIS-Webcat for antiquarian materials.]
2006 ‘Kaigai ni okeru Nihon kinsei bungaku no shoshigakuteki oyobi bunkengakuteki na kenkyū no kanōsei’海外における日本近世文学の書誌学的および文献学的な研究の可能性 (‘Overseas Bibliographical and Philological Research in the Field of Edo Period Japanese Literature. Existing problems and possible solutions’), in Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Japanese Literature (NIJL), March 2006, pp. 139-153.
2006 ‘Il manoscritto nell’era della stampa: riflessioni su alcuni testi letterari di periodo Edo’, in Giuliano Boccali and Maurizio Scarpari (ed.), Scritture e Codici nelle Culture dell’Asia: Giappone, Cina, Tibet, India. Prospettive di studio, Cafoscarina, Venezia 2006, pp. 65-83.
2002 ‘Aspetti della letteratura di viaggio nel primo periodo Tokugawa: Chikusai e chikusaibon’, Atti del XXV Convegno di Studi sul Giappone, Cartotecnica Veneziana Editrice, Venezia, December 2002, vol. 2, pp. 451-485.
2001 ‘Nise monogatari: il paradosso di una cultura che si trasforma conservando’, in Il Giappone verso il terzo millennio: radici e prospettive (Atti del XXIII Convegno di Studi sul Giappone), Rimini, Il Cerchio Iniziative editoriali, 2001, pp. 221-244.
2010 Review of HARUO SHIRANE (ed). Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900. Abridged Edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008, in Asian Studies Review (2010), vol. 34, pp. 122-125.
2005 ‘Kanazōshi’, ‘Gesaku’, ‘Haikai’, ‘Ise monogatari’, ‘Kinkin sensei eiga no yume’, ‘Nishiki no ura’, ‘Oku no hosomichi’, ‘Renga’, in Adriana Boscaro (ed.), Guida alla letteratura giapponese, Einaudi, Torino 2005.
Presentations at Academic Conferences
2012 AAS Conference (Toronto, 15 March 2012)
Panel organizer (panel ‘Visual/Textual Appropriation and Trans-Creation in Early Modern Kusazōshi’; other participants Shimazaki Satoko, Ishigami Aki, Keller Kimbrough)
Paper: ‘Re-inventing Popular Literature. The Legacy of Seventeenth and Eighteenth-century Kamigata Popular Prose in Kusazōshi’
2011 EAJS Conference (Tallin, 26 August 2011)
Paper: ‘Translated Texts in Seventeenth-century Japan’
2011 'Transmissions'. Centenary Conference of the School of Modern Languages (Newcastle University, 25 March 2011)
Paper: ‘Textual fluidity in the transmission of manuscripts and printed texts: the case of Edo-period (1600-1867) Japanese popular literature’
2011 International conference on Nara-ehon and emaki (Newcastle University, 11 February 2011)
Paper: ‘The legacy of 17th-century Kamigata prose in early kusazōshi’
2010 Workshop ‘Shunga in its Social and Cultural Context’ (SOAS, 13-14 September 2010)
Paper: ‘Onna enshoku kyôkun kagami and Onna genji kyôkun kagami: parody or counter-discourse on women's sexuality?’
2010 ASAA Conference (Adelaide, 5-8 July 2010)
Paper: ‘The order of books: a survey of Edo-period booksellers’ catalogues’ (in the panel ‘Early Modern Print Culture in Japan’ organized by Moriyama Takeshi).
2010 AAS Conference (Philadelphia, 25-28 March 2010)
Panel organizer (panel ‘Literary Genres and their Boundaries: A Study of Cross-Genre / Trans-Genre Mechanisms and Genre Hybridity in Edo-Period Literature’; other participants Michael Watson and Lawrence Marceau)
Paper: ‘Intertextual Resonances that Challenge Generic Boundaries: the Rewritings of Chikusai in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth century’
2010 NCC Conference (Philadelphia, 24 March 2010)
Paper: ‘The Marega Collection of Japanese early-modern books in Rome’
2010 International workshop ‘Nara ehon – emaki kokusai kaigi Venezia taikai’ 奈良絵本・絵巻国際会議ベネチア大会 (Venice, 12 March 2010)
Paper: 草双紙における『竹斎』の変容 (‘Transformations of Chikusai in kibyōshi’)
2009 JSAA Conference (Sydney, 13-16 July 2009)
Paper: ‘Shin (new) and zoku (sequel) versions in the popular prose of the Edo period: tricks of the publishing trade or valuable pointers?’
2008 EAJS Conference (Lecce, 18-20 September 2008)
Panel organizer: (panel ‘Scribal Culture in the Age of Print: Reconsidering the Edo Narrative’; other participants Peter Kornicki and Machi Senjuro)
Paper: ‘Unstable Texts: Changes and Rewritings in the Passage Between Manuscripts and Printed Books in the Early Edo Period’
2008 EAJRS Conference (Lisbon, 16-19 September)
Paper: ‘Critical editions of kanbun and wabun texts: an analysis of related problems on the basis of the experience of the Internet Kanbun Research Group’
2008 Workshop ‘Riflessioni sulla variantistica nei testi estremo-orientali. Esperienze di critica testuale a confronto’ (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, 29-30 May 2008)
Paper: ‘ Il labile confine tra testo a stampa e manoscritto: il libro antico in Giappone e le sue edizioni critiche’
2007 International Workshop ‘UBC The Ise Tale Workshop’ (Vancouver, 21-22 August 2007)
Paper: ‘Re-inventing Ise monogatari. Rewriting, Parody and Expanding Transformation in Early Kinsei Prose’
2007 International workshop ‘Narrative, Nonnarrative, Narrativity and Narrativehood in Japanese Prose of the Edo Period’, held at Università Pontificia Salesiana (Rome), 31 May -1 June 2007.
Paper: ‘On the Edge of Narrative: a New View of the XVII Century Prose Preceding Saikak’
2006 EAJRS Conference (Venice, 27-30 settembre 2006)
Paper: ‘The ‘Marega Collection’ at Università Pontificia Salesiana in Rome: an Insight into its New Physiognomy’
2005 NIJL 29th International Conference on Japanese Literature (Tokyo, 17-18 November 2005)
Paper: 海外における日本近世文学の書誌学的および文献学的な研究の可能性 (‘Kaigai ni okeru Nihon kinsei bungaku no shoshigakuteki oyobi bunkengakuteki na kenkyū no kanōsei ‘)
2005 EAJRS Conference (Lund, 21-24 September 2005)
Paper: ‘Genesis of a Misleading Label: Are Kanazōshi a Literary Genre?’
2005 EAJS Conference (Wien, 31 August- 3 September 2005)
Paper: ‘Hybrid prose of the kinsei literature. Multiple contents, pluri-modal prose and poly-functional books’
2004 Workshop ‘Scritture e Codici nelle Culture dell’Asia. Prospettive di Studio’ (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, 22-23 January 2004)
Paper: ‘Il manoscritto nell’era della stampa: riflessioni sui testi letterari di periodo Edo (1600-1867)’
2003 EAJS Conference (Warsaw, 26-30 August 2003)
Paper: ‘Re-writings and re-inventions of Ise monogatari in the Edo period literature’
2001 AISTUGIA Conference (Venezia, 4-6 October 2001)
Paper: ‘Aspetti della letteratura di viaggio nel primo periodo Tokugawa: Chikusai e chikusaibon’
2000 EAJS Conference (Lathi, 23-26 August 2000)
Paper: ‘The New Out of the Old: The Patterns of Intertextuality in Early Edo Period Literature’
2012 ‘An international workshop on kanbun and kanbun kundoku for scholars, postgraduate students, librarians and museum curators’ at Newcastle University with Prof Yamabe Susumu of Nishōgakusha University (07-09 September)
2012 ‘Reading Edo-period texts in the raw: learning how to read manuscripts and woodblock-printed books as Edo-period readers read them’ at The British Library (27-29 June)
2012 EAJS PhD Workshop at Newcastle University (31 May - 02 June)
2011 21st EAJRS Annual Conference organized at Newcastle University (07-10 September)
2011 International conference on Nara-ehon and emaki organized with Prof. Ishikawa Tōru (Keio University) at Newcastle University (11 February)
2010 International workshop ‘Japanese Antiquarian Materials: an introduction to printed books and ukiyo-e of the Edo period’ organized at Università Pontificia Salesiana (Marega Collection - Rome) (28-29 May)
2010 International conference ‘Japanese Culture and Illustrated Books’ organized with Prof. Ishikawa Tōru (Keio University) at Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia (12 March)
2008 National conference ‘Riflessioni sulla variantistica nei testi estremo orientali. Esperienze di critica testuale a confronto’ organized with colleague Attilio Andreini at Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia (29-30 May)
2007 International workshop ‘Narrative, Nonnarrative, Narrativity and Narrativehood in Japanese Prose of the Edo Period’ organized at Università Pontificia Salesiana (Rome) (31 May -1 June). Proceedings published in 2009 in Japan Forum 21/3.
2006 17th Annual Conference of EAJRS organized at Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia (27-30 September)