Dennis Charles Washburn

Academic Appointments
  • Associate Dean of the Faculty for Interdisciplinary Programs

  • Burlington Northern Foundation Professor in Asian Studies in Honor of Richard M. Bressler ‘52

Openness, humility, and self-reflection are academic virtues I try (however, imperfectly) to cultivate in my teaching and research. I bring a somewhat eclectic range of approaches to bear on the subjects I investigate, though I see myself as more of a cultural translator than a theorist.  I am wary of broadly applying the critical discourses of the American academy to an analysis of Japanese culture because of the historical and ethical distortions that may result, preferring instead to focus on the practice of close and detailed reading as a means to enable interpretation within a comparative framework. In class my role is not only to provide historical and cultural context, but also to encourage a deep intellectual and emotional engagement on the part of the students. I want them first and foremost to reflect on the origins and validity of their own beliefs and values so that they may then come on equal terms -- at once rational, direct, and personal -- to the thinkers and artists we study . 


101E Bartlett
HB 6191


  • B.A. Harvard University
  • M.A. Pembroke College, Oxford University
  • Waseda University
  • Ph.D. Yale University

Selected Publications

  • The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu, translation (2015)

  • The Affect of Difference: Representations of Race in East Asian Empire (2016)

  • Translating Mount Fuji: Modern Japanese Fiction and the Ethics of Identity , (2006)

  • The Dilemma of the Modern in Japanese Fiction, (1995)

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Works In Progress

  • Global Gothic and the Japanese sublime

  • Genji Lab