Seth Jacobowitz

Seth Jacobowitz's picture
Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures
(203) 432-9840


I received my Ph.D. in East Asian Literature from Cornell University, my M.A. in Asian Studies from Cornell, and my B.A. in English Literature from Columbia University.  I was a Fulbright Fellow at Nagoya University, a Japan Foundation Fellow at Waseda University in Tokyo, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies at Harvard University.

I am primarily a specialist in modern Japanese literature and media studies from the Meiji period (1868-1912) to present day. My signature piece of scholarship is Writing Technology in Meiji Japan: A Media History of Modern Japanese Literature and Visual Culture, Harvard University Asia Center, 2015. It examines how new techniques and technologies of recording in late nineteenth century Japan decisively transformed the status of language, national identity and categories of literature such as realism and naturalism. It further demonstrates how Japanese modernity was largely coeval, and in close dialog, with its counterparts in the West.

A related area that I work on is Japanese popular and mass culture. My first publication was The Edogawa Rampo Reader (Fukuoka: Kurodahan Press, 2008), an anthology of short stories and essays in translation by Japan’s preeminent writer of mystery and detective fiction from the 1920s to 1930s. I am collaborating with my colleague Dr. Aaron W. Moore (History, U. of Manchester) on Robots and Detectives: An Unno Juza Anthology, under contract with Kurodahan Press, which highlights the aesthetics of “erotic, grotesque, nonsense” coupled with elements of science fiction and detective fiction by the interwar writer Unno Juza. It will be the first collection of his work translated into English. My work on mass culture also extends to studies of Japanese animation, notably in its intersections with the philosophy and ecology of the post-human. I have published and translated several articles on this subject for the journal Mechademia (U. of Minnesota Press) and elsewhere, including “Unno Juza and the Uses of Science in Prewar Japanese Popular Fiction” in the Palgrave Handbook of Popular Fiction (Palgrave, 2016).

Last but not least, I maintain strong comparative research and teaching interests in modern Brazilian literature and culture. My next major research project will investigate cross-currents in Japanese and Brazilian modernity, which included the arrival of more than one hundred thousand Japanese immigrants to Brazil in the first half of the 20th century.

Before coming to Yale in Fall 2013, I spent six years teaching in the Humanities Department of San Francisco State University.


B.A., Columbia University, 1996
M.A., Cornell University, 1999
Ph.D., Cornell University, 2006