Asian Languages and Literatures Welcomes New Assistant Professor

Miri Nakamura, assistant professor of Japanese language and literature, teaches Japanese horror films and fiction.
Posted 10/02/07
Miri Nakamura has joined the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures as an assistant professor of Japanese language and literature.

Her primary research interests are modern Japanese fantastic fiction and gender theory. She is also interested in the dialogue between science and literature in the prewar era. Her dissertation, titled Monstrous Bodies: Gender and Reproductive Science in Modern Japanese Literature, examined how the classical image of monstrous women came to be modified and developed in the modern period. By situating fantastic writings on monstrous births against larger historical discourses such as eugenics and the birth control movement, she showed how monstrosity and femininity are inseparable from one another in the modern Japanese imagination.

This fall, Nakamura is teaching a course on modern and contemporary Japanese women writers, and in spring a course on Japanese horror films and fiction.

“The caliber of the students here has been the highest that I have ever witnessed, and I feel very fortunate to be working with such bright, passionate minds,” she says. “Wesleyan seems to attract people who are very liberal-minded and extraordinary in the sense that they can think outside the box.”

Nakamura received her Ph.D. from the Department of Asian Languages at Stanford University in July 2007. There, she taught various levels of language courses and Classical Japanese Literature Survey and co-taught The History of Japanese Popular Culture. Nakamura received the Centennial Teaching Assistant Award for her services and worked at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford as a teaching consultant, microteaching coordinator and departmental liaison.

Nakamura also holds a Ph.D. minor in comparative literature, as well as a master of arts in Japanese literature from Columbia University, and two bachelor of arts degrees from UCLA, where she studied French literature and linguistics, in addition to East Asian studies. She has a certificate in advanced French language from the Université de Sorbonne in Paris, France.

She has always had an interest in Wesleyan University, and she’s honored to be working at the alma mater of Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“Wesleyan is one of my two favorite institutions in the U.S., and if I could do my undergraduate over again, I would do it at Wes,” she says. “I have four friends who are alumni of Wesleyan, and they are not only intelligent, but also extremely creative.”

Nakamura has published in both English and Japanese. Her most recent articles, “Marking Bodily Differences: Mechanized Bodies in Hirabayashi Hatsunosuke’s ‘Robot’” and “Early Shôwa Robot Literature” looks at robot literature in the 1920s, and she has an article and two translations that are coming out in Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams: Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime in November 2007.

She’s the recipient of several academic awards including a Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in 2006-07; a Freeman-Spogli Institute Japan Dissertation Fund in 2005-06 and a Fulbright-Hays Doctorial Research Fellowship in 2002-03. She completed a Fulbright fellowship in 2002-03 at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan.

During her free time, Nakamura enjoys practicing Bikram yoga, reading comic books, sewing and petting other people’s cats.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor