Interests: Japanese literature and cultural history, particularly classical and early modern literature, with special interest in prose fiction, poetry, and literary theory; the interaction between popular and elite cultures; issues of cultural memory and language; ecocriticism and cultural constructions of nature.
Professor Shirane has written widely on Heian, medieval and Edo prose fiction, poetry, and visual culture, as well as on the modern reception of literary classics and the production of the “past.” This year he published Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts (Columbia University Press, 2012), which examines the huge impact that the culture of the four seasons have had on Japanese literature, arts, gardens, and architecture.
Professor Shirane has also edited a book on Japanese poetry called Waka Opening Up to the World: Language, Community, and Gender (Benseisha, 2012), a bilingual (Japanese-English) edition that brings together the best scholarship in both Japanese and English on the function and impact of Japan’s most influential poetic genre.
Professor Shirane is also engaged in bringing new approaches to the study of Japanese literary culture. This has resulted in Japanese Literature and Literary Theory (Nihon bungaku kara no hihyō riron, Kasama shoin, 2009), edited with Fujii Sadakazu and Matsui Kenji; and New Horizons in Japanese Literary Studies (Bensei Publishing, 2009), both of which explore new issues and methodologies in the study of print and literary culture.
Professor Shirane is also the editor of Food in Japanese Literature (Shibundō, 2008); Overseas Studies on The Tale of Genji (Ōfū, 2008); and Envisioning The Tale of Genji: Media, Gender, and Cultural Production (Columbia University Press, 2008). The latter two books analyze the impact of The Tale of Genji on Japanese cultural history in multiple genres and historical periods. He has translated and edited a number of volumes on Japanese literature. These include The Demon at Agi Bridge and Other Japanese Tales (Columbia University Press, 2010), a collection of setsuwa (anecdotal literature); Classical Japanese Literature, An Anthology: Beginnings to 1600 (Columbia University Press,2006); Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600–1900 (ColumbiaUniversity Press, 2002; abridged ed., 2008); and The Tales of the Heike (Columbia University Press, 2006; paperback 2008).
Professor Shirane is also deeply involved with the history of Japanese language and pedagogical needs and has written the Classical Japanese Reader and Essential Dictionary (2007) and Classical Japanese: A Grammar (Columbia University Press,2005). Previous books include Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Bashō (Stanford University Press, 1998) and The Bridge of Dreams: A Poetics of The Tale of Genji (Stanford University Press, 1987). He also is co-editor with Tomi Suzuki of Inventing the Classics: Modernity, National Identity, and Japanese Literature (Stanford UniversityPress, 2001).
Professor Shirane received his BA from Columbia College (1974) and his PhD from Columbia University (1983). He is the recipient of Fulbright, Japan Foundation, SSRC, and NEH grants and has been awarded the Kadokawa Genyoshi Prize, Ishida Hakyō Prize, and, most recently, the Ueno Satsuki Memorial prize (2010) for outstanding research on Japanese culture.