Michael Chan

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Michael Chan received a BA from Dartmouth College and an MA from Columbia University before entering the program in 2007. At Yale, he completed coursework in modern and pre-modern Japanese literature; Japanese film, film theory and visual culture; and European modernism and narrative theory.  He is currently at work on his dissertation, entitled “Writing the Modern Family: Family, Nation and Everyday Life in Japan, 1910-1950,” which examines depictions of the family in modern Japanese literature with a focus on the Taisho and early Showa periods.  This project investigates how writers such as Shimazaki Tōson, Kikuchi Kan and Tanizaki Jun’ichirō positioned the characters of their novels within active and changing family structures that questioned and resisted restrictive socio-political definition.  These authors and their works responded to—sometimes problematically—a focus on individual character, particularly that of women, and an increased interest in everyday life.  Thus, this project sheds light on how the family operated as a concept during a time when all eyes were on the individual.  Furthermore, by exploring the family in works of both the bundan and popular culture, as well as juxtaposing the family in literature against its visual representation in the rising medium of film, a broader conception of literature and its potential as a medium during this time becomes clear.  When not working on the dissertation, Michael enjoys photography, solving Rubik’s cubes and reading contemporary Japanese fiction.