Professor of Japanese Language and Literature and of Comparative Literature
Head of the Japanese Section
Marvin Marcus did his doctoral work at the University of Michigan, under the direction of Robert Brower and Robert Danly, and he has been on the Washington University faculty since 1985. Marcus’s area of specialization is modern Japanese literature of the prewar (so-called kindai ) period, and his research has focused on personal narrative and ‘life writing’—memoir, reminiscence, essay, diary, and autobiography. He also researches aspects of the Tokyo literary community—the bundan—and the literary journalism that was its lifeblood. Marcus has extensively researched and written on authors such as Mori Ōgai, Natsume Sōseki, Shimazaki Tōson, Futabatei Shimei, and Uchida Roan. Literary translation has been an essential component of this work over the years. Paragons of the Ordinary (Hawaii, 1993) concerns Ōgai’s biographical writings. Reflections in a Glass Door (Hawaii, 2009) centers on Sōseki’s wide-ranging personal writings. Marcus’s current book project, entitled Writing in the Margins, brings together a number of interrelated perspectives on kindai literature through the ‘marginal’ endeavors of major writers.
Marvin Marcus has a courtesy appointment with Comparative Literature and has taught comparatist courses on the literature of reminiscence to freshmen and doctoral candidates as well. He also teaches widely in the area of Japanese poetry and is himself a practicing poet. His collection, entitled Orientations: The Found Poetry of Scholarly Discourse on Asia (Mellen Poetry Press, 2004), speaks to the creative, and at times ironic, expressiveness that has been a welcome corrective—and complement— to his scholarly research.