Robert and Lisa Sainsbury fellows

Edward Kamens

Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow 2014 - 2015

Yale University

PhD, Yale University, 1982

Edward Kamens is Sumitomo Professor of Japanese Studies at Yale University. His scholarship focuses on classical Japanese literature, especially classical poetry (waka), Buddhist literature, and the interactions of literary texts in and with visual and material culture.

Major publications include Utamakura, Allusion and Intertextuality in Traditional Japanese Poetry(Yale University Press, 1997); The Buddhist Poetry of the Great Kamo Priestess: Daisaiin Senshi and Hosshin wakashū (Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 1990) and The Three Jewels: A Study and Translation of Minamoto no Tamenori’s Sanbōe(Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 1988).

He was co-editor, with Mikael Adolphson and Stacie Matsumoto, of Heian Japan: Centers and Peripheries(University of Hawai’i Press, 2007). He has published articles on Buddhist poetry in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (“Dragon-girl, Maidenflower, Buddha: The Transformation of a Waka Topos,” 1993) and The Journal of Japanese Studies (“Waking the Dead: Fujiwara Teika’s Sotoba kuyō Poems, 2002.)

Kamens is currently at work on a book-length study of classical Japanese poetry and its relationship to material culture, entitled Waka and Things, Waka as Things. It will include close examinations of the production, programming, presentation and reproduction of waka in intimate association with the making of material objects including paintings, landscape models, and illustrated sutras. The book will also propose that waka poems themselves can be understood as “things” produced, presented, and recycled much as are other objects in the material culture of which they are a part, and that this characteristic merits as much attention and appreciation as do their expressive, representational, and other rhetorical functions.