The Department faculty promote more cross-pollination in research by organizing faculty members into theme- or expertise-based groups that we call research estuaries. An estuary is a metaphor of what we envisage to do—develop an interdisciplinary and transregional research profile, while maintaining our traditional disciplinary research agenda. 

Current Faculty Research

Elizabeth Oyler's recent co-edited volume Cultural Imprints (Cornell University Press, 2022) draws on literary works, artifacts, performing arts, and documents that were created by or about the samurai to examine individual "imprints," traces holding specifically grounded historical meanings that persist through time. 

In Imperial-Time-Order (Brill 2016), Kun Qian offers a critical study on a persistent historical way of thinking in modern China, centered on notions of time, morality, and empire.

Charles Exley’s recent book, Satō Haruo and Modern Japanese Literature (Brill, 2017) offers the first comprehensive examination of Satō’s literary oeuvre from the 1910s through the 1930s. The study examines the ways in which he interacted with cultural discourses of the time, such as the fantastic and mental illness.

Charles Exley published this year another book co-edited with Michael Stone Tangeman, Old Crimes, New Scenes: A Century of Innovations in Japanese Mystery Fiction fom MerwinAsia. This volume highlights some of Japan’s most creative responses to the mystery genre. Some of the works are innovative because they were written by authors (or, in one case, a poet) who did not normally write mysteries. Others are innovative for their variations on standard elements detective fiction, or for using mystery tropes to interrogate social norms such as social standing, or gender roles. Some works play on technological innovations as keys to the mystery. Some of the works are meta-fictive explorations of the mystery, using detective fiction to investigate detective fiction. Scholars, students and mystery readers alike will find this volume full of surprises

Current Graduate Research

Ali Richardson (MA, 2018) offers an analysis of novelist Yamamura Misa's treatment of cultural identity and gender in Yamamura's Katherine series detective stories.

Current Undergraduate Research

We encourage undergraduate research and creative activity that you collaborate with a faculty member or undertake an indpendent project under faculty supervision. We also recognize the best undergraduate research in our undergraduate research fair every spring.

Digital Initiative

Statistical treatments of information have been a regular way to find significant patterns, especially in SLA research. More recently, we also began using large corpus data to aid research in historical and literary studies.

Organized Conferences and Creative Projects

  • In July 2022, Kun Qian organized a transnational conference on “Metaverse in China,” which attracted scholars in different disciplines, as well as industry representatives from China and the US. 

    Kun Qian participated in making an oral-history based documentary film The Revolution They Remember on the Chinese Cultural Revolution, commissioned by the University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh.

    Part 1

    Part 2