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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

East Asian Studies
Kawashima University Associate Professor in Japanese Literature and Culture
Email address: 
+44 (0)1223 35173
Fellow of: 
Selwyn College
Director of Studies at: 
Selwyn College

Nobody can quite recall what first triggered my interest in Japanese, but since a family holiday to Greece at the age of five, I have always been fascinated by languages that use different writing systems to English. Although at one stage I had thought I would become a maths teacher, I was thrilled to discover that I could study Japanese ab initio at university. I took up my BA in Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge (Trinity Hall), where my passion for the Japanese language was further piqued by reading works of literature in class. I then completed an MA in Japanese Cultural Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London, before spending three and a half years at Waseda University in Tokyo as a research student in the then Institute for Ryukyuan and Okinawan Studies. I was awarded my Ph.D by the University of Leeds in 2016. My thesis focused on works of literature by three writers: Sakiyama Tami, Yi Yang-ji, and Tawada Yōko. Most often associated with the categories of Okinawan, resident Korean (zainichi), and ‘transborder’ literature respectively, my research traced the multiple and intriguing ways in which these works of fiction reinscribe, transcend, and challenge the margins and borders of Japanese literature.

While carrying out my Ph.D research, I taught classes on modern and contemporary Japanese literature at the University of Leeds and the University of Sheffield. In February 2017, I became a Teaching Fellow at Newcastle University where I also co-taught a course on contemporary Japanese popular culture. I returned to the Faculty in Cambridge in September 2017.

Teaching responsibilities: 

Dr Young teaches papers in modern and contemporary Japanese literature, and Japanese cinema.

Supervision information: 

*** Dr Young will be on sabbatical Lent and Easter 2024 and therefore not able to take one-year MPhil applicants intending to commence study in Oct 2023 ***

Dr Young is pleased to supervise graduate students interested in modern and contemporary Japanese and Okinawan literature, particularly where linked to themes and issues of imperialism, decolonisation, gender and sexuality, multilinguality, and translation.    

Research interests: 

Modern and contemporary literature in Japan and Okinawa; the writing of ethnic, gendered, and linguistic difference in literature (in both colonial period and contemporary 'transborder' contexts); feminist literary criticism; translation in theory and practice.

My research has primarily focused on the writings of Sakiyama Tami, Yi Yang-ji, and Tawada Yōko. What draws me particularly to these works of literature are the articulations of female body, voice, and silence as they relate to broader concerns of language, memory and translatability. I am currently developing articles related to my Ph.D research, in addition to revising my thesis manuscript into a book. 

I am a keen amateur literary translator. My translation of the poem "Backbone" (Senaka) by the Okinawan poet, Tōma Hiroko, is published in: Bhowmik, Davinder L, & Steve Rabson (eds.). 2016. Islands of Protest: Japanese Literature from Okinawa. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.

I am also a member of the Editorial Committee for the The Journal of the Waseda House of International Literature: 

Current PhD students

Guy Pinnington: Attitudes to Zainichi Koreans in postwar Japan; paying particular attention to 2nd generation Zainichi author Yang Seok-il.
Moe Sasakawa: The Posthuman Subjects in Contemporary Japanese Literature: Nonhuman Animals in the Works of Furukawa Hideo, Oyamada Hiroko, Hosaka Kazushi

Articles, Book Chapters etc

Beyond “Transborder”: Tawada Yōko’s Vision of Another World Literature Japanese Language and Literature, [S.l.], v. 55, n. 1, apr. 2021 pp. 1-33 (2021)
Inciting the Past: Okinawan literature and the decolonising turn Japan Forum, vol. 32, no. 4 (December 2020) (2020)
"Backbone". Translation of the poem by Tōma Hiroko Islands of Protest: Japanese Literature from Okinawa (2016)