Edward Kamens

Edward Kamens's picture
Sumitomo Professor Emeritus of East Asian Languages & Literatures

B.A., Yale University, 1974


I was a member of the EALL faculty from 1986 until my retirement in 2022. I taught previously at U. of Chicago, UCLA, and U. of Washington.  At Yale I served as EALL’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of Graduate Studies, and Chair; I was also Associate Master and Master of Saybrook College. My teaching covered Japanese literature from the earliest periods into the 19th century; my research interests focus primarily on the poetry and prose genres of the Nara, Heian and Kamakura periods.  Major publications include The Three Treasures:  A Revised and Illustrated Study and Translation of Minamoto no Tamenori’s Sanbōe, with Ethan Bushelle (2023); Waka and Things, Waka as Things (2017); Utamakura, Allusion and Intertextuality in Traditional Japanese Poetry (1997); The Buddhist Poetry of the Great Kamo Priestess: Daisaiin Senshi and Hosshin wakashū (1990); Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries, ed. with Mikael Adolphson and Stacie Matsumoto (2007); and articles in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, the Journal of Japanese Studies and Ajiya yūgaku (in Japanese).  My chapter on Heian-period court literature is forthcoming in the new Cambridge History of Japan. 
Recently published articles and essays include studies of sutra copy fragments (Shakyōgire), the figure of “darkness in the heart” (kokoro no yami) and other aspects of poetry and poetics in The Tale of Genji. (See c.v.)
I am also coordinating The Tekagami-jō Project, to produce a complete interactive digital presentation of this 17th century calligraphy masters’ sampler (in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library) on the basis of research by an international team of scholars, curators, conservators and materials scientists.  The project is supported by a grant from the Digital Humanities Lab, Yale University, and by the Council on East Asian Studies, Yale University. The project web site, under construction, can be viewed here. A book publication stemming from the project is in its planning stages.
Other current projects include an article on the screens, poems and songs created for the Reiwa 2019 Daijōe and studies of the “ten tropes of the Vimalakīrti Sutra” and the figure of kagerō in The Tale of Genji and elsewhere.