Dennis Charles Washburn

Academic Appointments
  • Professor of Comparative Literature, Asian Societies Cultures and Languages, & Film Studies

  • Burlington Northern Foundation Professor in Asian Studies in Honor of Richard M. Bressler '52

Openness, humility, and self-reflection are academic virtues I try (however imperfectly) to cultivate in my teaching and research. I bring a somewhat eclectic range of approaches to bear on the subjects I investigate, though I see myself as more of a cultural translator than a theorist.  I am wary of broadly applying the critical discourses of the American academy to an analysis of Japanese culture because of the historical and ethical distortions that may result, preferring instead to focus on the practice of close and detailed reading as a means to enable interpretation within a comparative framework. In class my role is not only to provide historical and cultural context, but also to encourage a deep intellectual and emotional engagement on the part of the students. I want them first and foremost to reflect on the origins and validity of their own beliefs and values so that they may then come on equal terms -- at once rational, direct, and personal -- to the thinkers and artists we study . 


Anonymous, Room 303
HB 6191


Comparative Literature


  • B.A. Harvard University
  • M.A. Pembroke College, Oxford University
  • Waseda University
  • Ph.D. Yale University

Selected Publications

  • Norton Critical Edition of The Tale of Genji (2021)

  • The Affect of Difference: Representations of Race in East Asian Empire (2016)

  • The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu, translation (2015)

  • Translating Mount Fuji: Modern Japanese Fiction and the Ethics of Identity , (2006)

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Works In Progress

  • To Make Gods and Demons Weep: The Sublime in Japanese Aesthetics

  • Genji Lab