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Michael F. Marra  (b. 1956) is a specialist of Japanese culture.

  

  M. Marra

He was born in Turin and given the name Michele Ferruccio Pio. The name change took place in 1999, when he became a U.S. citizen. He spent the first 23 years of his life in Condove, a lovely village located in the middle of the valley that connects Italy to France (Val di Susa). As a child Marra memorized the entire mass in Latin (including the sections reserved for priests) only to find out that Pope Paul VI (1897-1978)  had decided to replace Latin with Italian—a disappointment that the very young Marra expressed in a letter to the Pope, receiving back from the Pope his picture and blessings. 

 

  Condove

 

In Susa, Marra studied Latin and Greek at the Liceo Classico ‘Norberto Rosa’ (1970-1975) where his professor of philosophy, Dino Dezzani, introduced him to Martin Heidegger’s On the Way to Language and to the fields of aesthetics and poetics. It took Marra over thirty years to formulate a response to his teacher with the articles, “On Japanese Things and Words: An Answer to Heidegger’s Question,” (Philosophy East and West, 2004) and “A Dialogue on Language between a Japanese and an Inquirer: Kuki Shūzō’s Version” (Hori and Curley, eds., Neglected Themes and Hidden Variations, 2008). Marra’s strong interest in Italian literature inspired him to communicate with several Italian writers, including Natalia Ginzburg (1916-1991), who responded to his letter with the novel Caro Michele (Dear Michael), developing a plot suggested by the young Marra.

 

  Susa

 

At the University of Turin (1975-1979) Marra studied Sanskrit and Pāli with Oscar Botto (1922-2008), Japanese literature with Mario Scalise (1924-2003), and Italian literature with Giorgio Bàrberi Squarotti (b. 1929), Angelo Jacomuzzi (1929-1995), Stefano Jacomuzzi (1924-1996), and Marziano Guglielminetti (1937-2006). In 1979, he received a doctorate with a dissertation on the impact of the Japanese classics on the fiction of the Nobel-prize winner Kawabata Yasunari.

  

  Torino

 

A fellowship from the Japanese Ministry of Education (1979-1981) enabled Marra to do research at the University of Tsukuba (Japan) with Kuwabara Hiroshi (b. 1933, Heian literature) and Taniwaki Masachika (1939-2009, Edo literature). Kuwabara’s lectures on Ise Monogatari (The Tales of Ise) and Mumyōzōshi (The Nameless Book) led to Marra’s translation of the first text into Italian and the second into English (Monumenta Nipponica, 1984). After a rejection by the Italian academicians of Japan for publication in their specialized journal Il Giappone, Marra’s translation of The Tales of Ise was brought to the attention of the writer Italo Calvino (1923-1985), who included Marra’s work in one of Italy’s most revered literary series--a series once run by Marra’s favorite writer Cesare Pavese (I Racconti di Ise, Einaudi, 1985). In Turin, Marra also published work done in Japan on the seventeenth-century writer Ihara Saikaku (Storie di Mercanti--translation of Saikaku’s Nihon Eitaigura and Seken Munezan’yō, UTET, 1983). At the University of Tsukuba Marra met Carlo Caldarola (1928-1981), a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta (Canada), who encouraged him to pursue his studies in the U.S.

 

  Tsukuba Daigaku

  

In 1983 Marra received a Master Degree in Japanese literature from Washington University in St. Louis (1981-1983). At Wash U he pursued work on the boundaries between literature and philosophy under the guidance of Robert E. Morrell (b. 1930), a specialist of Buddhist anecdotal (setsuwa) literature. Morrell nurtured Marra’s interests in Buddhism, particularly the notion of time in Buddhist eschatology (mappō or the Last Age) on which Marra wrote several articles for the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (1984/85/88). Marra joined a seminar co-taught by the literary historian J. Thomas Rimer (b. 1933) and the historian Eugene Soviak (1927-2003), a model that Marra followed at UCLA over twenty-years later when he taught courses on Japanese literature and aesthetics together with his former mentor J. Thomas Rimer.

  

  Washington University

 

In 1983 the University of Foreign Studies in Ōsaka (Japan) appointed Marra visiting professor of Italian language and literature (1983-1985), following the retirement of the legendary Alessandro Bencivenni (1912-1995), who had spent over forty years in Japan promoting Italian culture and training the most distinguished Japanese scholars of Italian literature. In Ōsaka Marra met his wife Hayashi Toshie (b. 1963) whom he married in Princeton, NJ in 1985. Mrs. Marra is currently the librarian of Japanese studies at UCLA. Marra’s colleague of German literature, Peter Pörtner, brought to his attention a book by William R. LaFleur (1936-2010), The Karma of Words: Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan (1983), which reinforced Marra’s belief in the need to work across disciplines. Marra expressed his discomfort with formal analyses of literary texts to Earl Miner (1927-2004), the noted scholar of English, Japanese, and comparative literature who reminded him that the definition of literature always accompanies the presence of a poem. Miner urged Marra to follow him to Princeton University and do a Ph.D. there.

 

 Ōsaka Gaidai

 

At Princeton University (1985-1986) Marra experienced the fierce debates that profoundly divided the field of Japanese studies in the United States. Richard H. Okada introduced him to a mass of theoretical work in a seminar on Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji). Marra had to wait until 2007 before he was met with Okada’s approval, upon returning to Princeton and presenting the paper “Frameworks of Meaning: Old Aesthetic Categories and the Present.” At Princeton, Marra also worked with the historian Martin Collcutt (b. 1939), the historian of religions Helen Hardacre (b. 1949), and the foremost scholar of Japanese anime in the West, Susan J. Napier. However, he continued to harbor a desire to study with the author of the Karma of Words, who used to teach at Princeton but had recently moved to the University of California in Los Angeles. A call from William R. LaFleur informed Marra that he had been granted UCLA’s most prestigious graduate scholarship, the Chancellor’s Fellowship.

 

  Princeton University

 

In 1988 Marra received his Ph.D. in Japanese literature and thought from UCLA with a dissertation on the ideological implications of several Japanese literary texts from the Middle Ages. A revised version of the dissertation appeared as The Aesthetics of Discontent: Politics and Reclusion in Medieval Japanese Literature (1991). This study was meant as a response to LaFleur’s The Karma of Words in terms of locating specific political configurations at the basis of the theoretical debates discussed by LaFleur. Marra expanded his research further, moving from the counter-ideological discourses of medieval literati, which he discussed in The Aesthetics of Discontent to the appropriation of texts on the part of people in power—a topic analyzed in Representations of Power: The Literary Politics of Medieval Japan (1993). At UCLA Marra also worked with the literary historians Herbert E. Plutschow (1939-2010) and Ben Befu (b. 1927), the historian Janet R. Goodwin (b. 1939), and the founder of Korean studies in the West Peter H. Lee (b. 1929).

 

  UCLA

 

In 1988 the University of Tokyo appointed Marra visiting professor of Italian and comparative literature at the university’s campus in Hongō (1988-1990). He taught courses on literary theory and on the history of interpretations of literary texts. This appointment gave him an opportunity to get reacquainted with Japanese scholars of Italian culture, foremost among them Iwakura Tomotada (b. 1933), who had acted as mentor and friend since Marra’s arrival in Japan as a student.  Immigration policies required Marra to exit the U.S. for two years before being able to assume a teaching position in the States. At that time, Japanese immigration policies did not allow foreign residents to be considered for a tenured position. The Italian academicians of Japan (Adriana Boscaro and Maria Teresa Orsi) deemed Marra’s record “non-idoneo” (unfit) for a teaching position in an Italian University.

  

  Tōkyō Daigaku

 

 Thanks to the assistance of the Edo specialist Peter Nosco (b. 1950) Marra secured a teaching position in Japanese literature at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (1990-1993), from which he received a Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award. In 1993, during his tenure at USC, Marra conducted research at the University of Osaka with Kambayashi Tsunemichi (b. 1938) who, for many years, was President of the Japanese Association of Aesthetics, and who instructed Marra privately on the history of Japanese aesthetics. At an international symposium organized by Professor Kambayashi in Ōsaka, Marra met the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo (b. 1936) from his hometown of Turin. Vattimo was destined to have a profound influence on Marra’s work in aesthetics and hermeneutics, as testified by a lecture Marra gave in Kyōto, “Weak Thought: A Look at the Future of Hermeneutics” (1997). These seminal encounters eventually led to the publication of Modern Japanese Aesthetics: A Reader (1999) and A History of Modern Japanese Aesthetics (2001).

  

  USC

 

 In 1993 Marra moved across town and took a teaching position at UCLA where he has been working as a professor of Japanese literature, aesthetics, and hermeneutics. In 1998 he organized an international conference that was attended by distinguished philosophers and literary scholars from Japan, the U.S., and Europe. The proceedings of the conference are included in Japanese Hermeneutics: Current Debates on Aesthetics and Interpretation (2002). When he was asked to organize the 2003 meeting of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies (AJLS) Marra invited Fujita Masakatsu (b. 1949), holder of the only chair in Japanese philosophy in Japan (University of Kyōto), to deliver the keynote address. The essays are gathered in Hermeneutical Strategies: Methods of Interpretation in the Study of Japanese Literature (2004).  Haga Tōru (b. 1931), the leading scholar of comparative literature in Japan, invited Marra as a visiting professor of Japanese literature and aesthetics at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) in Kyōto (1996-1997). Marra also accepted invitations from the University of Turin (1996) and the University of Kyōto (2000 and 2005) as visiting professor of Japanese aesthetics. The appointments at the University of Kyōto followed the recommendation of the aesthetician Iwaki Ken’ichi (b. 1944) from the department of aesthetics and art history. The border between literature and philosophy continues to be the scholarly space of Marra’s work, as one can see from his Kuki Shūzō: A Philosopher’s Poetry and Poetics (2004), The Poetics of Motoori Norinaga: A Hermeneutical Journey (2007), and Japan’s Frames of Meaning: A Hermeneutics Reader (2011). Poetry continues to occupy Marra’s attention, both in its pre-modern forms (Seasons and Landscapes in Japanese Poetry: An Introduction to Haiku and Waka, 2008) and modern renditions (A Poetic Guide to an Ancient Capital: Aizu Yaichi and the City of Nara, 2009). The latter is a homage that Marra paid to the city of Nara in his role of Goodwill Ambassador for Nara Mahoroba during the celebrations of Nara’s 1300th anniversary as capital (710-2010). As a way to commemorate this event, in 2006 Marra organized an international symposium at UCLA, “The Making of an Ancient Capital: Nara,” that was honored by the presence of officials from the city’s prefecture. Marra organized his last international symposium at UCLA in 2008, “Kuki Shūzō (1888-1941) and the Question of Hermeneutics.” Among the invited speakers were Gianni Vattimo and the Japanese philosopher Ōhashi Ryōsuke (b. 1944). Both had the privilege of knowing Heidegger personally, and contributed a modern version of Heidegger’s dialogue between a Japanese and an Inquirer. The Dutch publishing house Brill has contracted the publication of Marra’s essays, Essays on Japan: Between Aesthetics and Literature (2010). This volume is believed to be Marra’s farewell to fields that have taken him through three continents, giving him the rare opportunity to dialogue with distinguished intellectuals all over the world. 

 

  Nichibunken                                     Kyōto Daigaku

 

 As his final resting place Marra has chosen Holy Cross cemetery in Culver City, across the mausoleum where tenor Mario Lanza (1921-1959) and pianist JoséIturbi (1895-1980) are buried. Marra’s father once took him to Turin to listen to a dazzling Iturbi in concert when Marra was still a child. He and his wife Toshie have selected a verse by the eighteenth-century Japanese poet Buson to be inscribed on their crypt:

 

花に暮れて  我家遠き  野道かな

 

Sun setting on the flowers,

My house—a far away

Path through the fields

 

 

  Holy Cross

 

 

Bibliography 

Books

 

1. Michael F. Marra, Japan’s Frames of Meaning: A Hermeneutics Reader. Honolulu: The University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, 437p.

 2. Michael F. Marra, Essays on Japan: Between Aesthetics and Literature. Leiden: Brill, 2010, 505p.      

3. Michael F. Marra, A Poetic Guide to an Ancient Capital: Aizu Yaichi and the City of Nara. Baltimore, Maryland: Modern English Tanka Press, 2009, 153p. 

4. Michael F. Marra, Seasons and Landscapes in Japanese Poetry: An Introduction to Haiku and Waka. Lewinston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2008, 295p. 

5. Michael F. Marra, The Poetics of Motoori Norinaga: A Hermeneutical Journey. Honolulu: The University of Hawai’i Press, 2007, 293p. 

6.  Michael F. Marra, ed. Hermeneutical Strategies: Methods of Interpretation in the Study of Japanese Literature, Proceedings of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies 5, Summer 2004, 517p. 

7. Michael F. Marra, ed. and trans. Kuki Shūzō: A Philosopher’s Poetry and Poetics. Honolulu: The University of Hawai’i Press, 2004, 357p. 

8. Michael F. Marra, ed. Japanese Hermeneutics: Current Debates on Aesthetics and Interpretation. Honolulu: The University of Hawai’i Press, 2002, 247p. 

9. Michael F. Marra, ed. and trans. A History of Modern Japanese Aesthetics. Honolulu: The University of Hawai’i Press, 2001, 398p. (hardcover and paperback editions). 

10. Michele Marra, Modern Japanese Aesthetics: A Reader. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999, 322p. (paperback edition, 2002). 

11. Michele Marra, trans. Seminando Semi di Comprensione (Italian Translation of Okamatsu Yoshihisa, Tane wo Maku). Kyoto: New Color Photographic Printing, 1997, 179p. 

12. Michele Marra, Representations of Power: The Literary Politics of Medieval Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1993, 240p. (hardcover and paperback editions). 

13. Michele Marra, The Aesthetics of Discontent: Politics and Reclusion in Medieval Japanese Literature, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1991, 222p. (hardcover and paperback editions). 

14. Michele Marra, trans. I Racconti di Ise (Introduction and Italian Translation of Ise Monogatari). Turin: Einaudi, 1985, 162p. 

15. Michele Marra, trans. Ihara Saikaku: Storie di Mercanti (Introduction and Italian Translation of Saikaku's Nihon Eitaigura and Seken Munezan’yō). Turin: UTET, 1983, 290p. 

 

Articles and Book Chapters

1. “Aesthetic Section: Overview,” in  James Heisig, Thomas Kasulis, and John Maraldo, eds., Sources in Japanese Philosophy (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, forthcoming). 

2. “The Aesthetics of Tradition: Making the Past Present,” in Ken’ichi Sasaki, ed., Asia Aesthetics (Kyoto: Kyoto University Press, 2010), pp. 41-55. Also available in Ken’ichi Sasaki, and Tanehisa Otabe, eds., Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Congress of Aesthetics in Japan 2001, CD-Rom, The Great Books of Aesthetics (2003), pp. 1-13. 

3. “Aesthetic Categories: Past and Present,” in Takahiro Nakajima, ed., Whither Japanese Philosophy? Reflections Through Other Eyes (Tokyo: The University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy, 2009), pp. 39-59. 

4. “Italian Fireflies into the Darkness of History,” in Whither Japanese Philosophy? Reflections Through Other Eyes (Tokyo: The University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy, 2009), pp. 61-79. 

5. “Continuity in Discontinuity: Thinking The Tale of Genji with Japanese Thinkers,” in Genji: Genji Monogatari no Hon’yaku to Hensō (Kyoto: Dōshisha Daigaku Daigakuin Bungaku Kenkyūka, 2008), pp. 55-80. 

6. “Frameworks of Meaning: Old Aesthetic Categories and the Present,” in Atsuko Ueda and Richard Okada, eds., Literature and Literary Theory, Proceedings of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies (PAJLS), Vol. 9 (2008), pp. 153-163. 

7. “The Dissolution of Meaning: Towards an Aesthetics of Non-Sense,” in The Asian Journal of Aesthetics & Art Sciences 1:1 (2008), pp. 15-27. It also appears in Jale N. Erzen, ed., International Yearbook of Aesthetics, Vol. 12 (2008), pp. 33-52.

8.  “Japanese Aesthetics in the World” (in Japanese), Shinohara Motoaki, ed., Iwanami Kōza: Tetsugaku, Vol. 7 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2008), pp. 179-202.

9. “A Dialogue on Language between a Japanese and an Inquirer: Kuki Shūzō’s Version,” in Victor Sōgen Hori and Melissa Anne-Marie Curley, eds., Neglected Themes and Hidden Variations, Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy 2 (Nagoya: Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, 2008), pp. 56-77.

10. “The Creation of the Vocabulary of Aesthetics in Meiji Japan,” in J. Thomas Rimer, ed., Japanese Art of the Modern Age (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, forthcoming). 

11.  “Place of Poetry, Place in Poetry: On Rulers, Poets, and Gods,” in Eiji Sekine, ed., Travel in Japanese Representational Culture: Its Past, Present, and Future, Proceedings of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies (PAJLS), Vol. 8 (Summer 2007), pp. 35-46. 

12. “Conrad Fiedler and the Aesthetics of the Kyōto School,” Proceedings of the Third International Congress for Aesthetics (forthcoming). 

13. “Aizu Yaichi no Nara Uta ni Tsuite,” in Aizu Yaichi to Nara, Commemorative Issue of the 50th Anniversary of the Death of Aizu Yaichi (Niigata: Aizu Yaichi Kinenkan, 2006), pp. 12-18. 

14. “Introduction: The Hermeneutical Challenge,” in Michael F. Marra, ed., Hermeneutical Strategies: Methods of Interpretation in the Study of Japanese Literature, Proceedings of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies (PAJLS), Vol. 5 (Summer 2004), pp. 1-16. 

15. “On Japanese Things and Words: An Answer to Heidegger’s Question,” Philosophy East and West 54:4 (October 2004), pp. 555-568. 

16. “Poetry and Poetics in Tension: Kuki Shūzō’s French and German Connections,” in Eiji Sekine, ed., Japanese Poeticity and Narrativity Revisited, Proceedings of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies (PAJLS), Vol. 4 (Summer 2003), pp. 79-97. 

17. “Estetika Tradicije: Narediti Preteklost Prisotno,” in Borec (Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2002), pp. 160-174. Translation of "The Aesthetics of Tradition: Making the Past Present," Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Congress of Aesthetics in Japan, 2001. 

18. "Fields of Contention: Philology (Bunkengaku) and the Philosophy of Literature (Bungeigaku)," in Joshua A. Fogel and James C. Baxter, eds., Historiography and Japanese Consciousness of Values and Norms (International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 2002), pp. 197-221. 

19. "Bungaku Kenkyū ni Okeru Ronsō: Bunkengaku to Bungeigaku" (in Japanese), in Ōsaka Daigaku Bigaku Kenkyūkai, ed. Bi to Geijutsu no Shunposhon (Tokyo Keisō Shobō, 2002), pp. 311-322. 

20. "Coincidentia Oppositorum: The Greek Genealogies of Japan," in Michael F. Marra, ed. Japanese Hermeneutics: Current Debates on Aesthetics and Interpretation (Honolulu: The University of Hawai’i Press, 2002), pp. 142-152. 

21. "Tairitsu Suru Mono no Itchi: Nihon no Girishateki Keifu" (in Japanese), Nihon no Bigaku 30 (2000), pp. 90-104. 

22. "Nihon no Bigaku: Imi no Kōchiku" (in Japanese), in Kambayashi Tsunemichi, ed., Nihon no Geijutsu Ron: Dentō to Kindai (Essays on the Japanese Arts: Modernity and Tradition) (Kyoto: Minerva Shobō, 2000), pp. 3-26. 

23. "Japan's Missing Alternative: Weak Thought and the Hermeneutics of Slimness," Versus, 83/84 (May 1999), pp. 215-241. 

24. "The New as Violence and the Hermeneutics of Slimness," Proceedings of the Midwest Association for Japanese Literary Studies 4 (Summer 1998), pp. 83-102. 

25. "Nativist Hermeneutics: The Interpretative Strategies of Motoori Norinaga and Fujitani Mitsue," Japan Review Bulletin of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Number 10 (October 1998), pp. 17-52. 

26. "Yowaki Shii: Kaishakugaku no Mirai wo Minagara" ("Weak Thought: A Look at the Future of Hermeneutics") (in Japanese), 95th Nichibunken Forum (December 1997), pp. 1-39. 

27. "Japanese Aesthetics: The Construction of Meaning," Philosophy East and West 45:3 (July 1995), pp. 367-386. 

28. "The Buddhist Mythmaking of Defilement: Sacred Courtesans in Medieval Japan," The Journal of Asian Studies 52:1 (February 1993), pp. 49-65. 

29. "Zeami and : A Path Towards Enlightenment," Journal of Asian Culture, vol. XII (1988), pp. 37-67. 

30. "The Development of Mappō Thought in Japan (II)," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, vol. 15, Number 4 (December 1988), pp. 287-305. 

31. "The Development of Mappō Thought in Japan (I)," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, vol. 15, Number 1 (March 1988), pp. 25-54.

32. "The Conquest of Mappō: Jien and Kitabatake Chikafusa," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, vol. 12, Number 4 (December 1985), pp. 319-341. 

33. "Semi-Recluses (Tonseisha) and Impermanence (Mujō): Kamo no Chōmei and Urabe Kenkō," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, vol. 11, Number 4 (December 1984), pp. 313-350. 

34. "Major Japanese Theorists of Poetry: from Ki no Tsurayuki to Kamo no Chōmei," Journal of Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Literature 67 (1984), pp. 27-35. 

35. "Mumyōzōshi, Part 3," Monumenta Nipponica, vol. XXXIX, Number 4 (Winter 1984), pp. 409-434. 

36. "Mumyōzōshi, Part 2," Monumenta Nipponica, vol. XXXIX, Number 3 (Autumn 1984), pp. 281-305. 

37. "Mumyōzōshi: Introduction and Translation," Monumenta Nipponica, vol. XXXIX, Number 2 (Summer 1984), pp. 115-145. 

38. "The Michizane Legend as seen in the Drama, Raiden," Journal of Osaka University of Foreign Studies, 64 (1984), pp. 437-446. 

 

Book Reviews

 1. Nara Hiroshi. The Structure of Detachment: The Aesthetic Vision of Kuki Shūzō (Honolulu: The University of Hawai’i Press, 2004), in The Journal of Asian Studies, 64:1 (February 2005), pp. 198-199. 

2. Robert N. Huey, The Making of Shinkokinshū (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2002), in The Journal of Japanese Studies 29:1 (2003), pp. 192-195. 

3. Haruo Shirane and Tomi Suzuki, eds., Inventing the Classics: Modernity, National Identity, and Japanese Literature (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), in Comparative Literature Studies 40:1 (2003), pp. 96-99. 

4. Rajyashree Pandey, Writing and Renunciation in Medieval Japan: The Works of the Poet-Priest Kamo no Chōmei (Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, 1998), in The Journal of Asian Studies (1999), pp. 853-856. 

5. Silvio Calzolari, trans.,  Il Dio Incatenato: Honchō Shinsenden di Ōe no Masafusa.Storie di Santi e Immortali nel Giappone dell'Epoca Heian (794-1185) (Florence: Sansoni, 1984), in Monumenta Nipponica, vol. 41, Number 4 (Winter 1986), pp. 495-497. 

 

Unpublished Material

1. Michele Marra, La Tradizione Classica in Kawabata Yasunari, Doctoral Dissertation (University of Turin, 1979, 450 pages). 

 

Presentations

November 8, 2010: “Hermeneutics of Emplacement: On Places, Cuts, and Promises,” paper prepared for the international symposium “Questioning Oriental Aesthetics and Thinking,” International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken), Kyōto, Japan. 

October 26, 2009: “Paradoxes of Reclusion: Between Aesthetics and Anti-Aesthetics,” paper presented at the Second International Symposium “Elegant City Planning: from Kireisabi to Mabusabi,” Kyoto University, Japan. 

December 20, 2008: “Continuity in Discontinuity: Thinking The Tale of Genji with Japanese Thinkers,” paper presented at the international symposium “Translations and Variations on The Tale of Genji,” Dōshisha University, Kyoto, Japan. 

December 2, 2008: “Italian Fireflies into the Darkness of History,” University of Tokyo, Komaba Campus, Center for Philosophy (UTCP), Tokyo, Japan. 

November 28, 2008: Aesthetic Categories: Past and Present,” University of Tokyo, Komaba Campus, Center for Philosophy (UTCP), Tokyo, Japan. 

May 16, 2008:  Chair and organizer of the International Symposium, “Kuki Shūzō (1888-1941) and the Question of Hermeneutics,” sponsored by the UCLA Center for Japanese Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. 

May 10, 2008: “History and Comparability,” Japanese Arts and Globalization UC-Multi-campus Research Group Workshop, University of California, Santa Barbara. 

March 14-16, 2008: Workshop for the compilation of  Sourcebook in Japanese Philosophy,  “Philosophical Sources in Japanese Confucianism,” Techny Towers  Conference and Retreat Center, Chicago. 

January 24, 2008: “Towards a Method of Shared Meaning: The Aesthetics of Japanese Poetry,” paper presented at the seminar Philosophical Ideas and Artistic Pursuits in the Traditions of Asia and the West: A NEH Faculty Humanities Workshop Series, College of DuPage. 

November 2-4, 2007: “Frameworks of Meaning: Old Aesthetic Categories and the Present.” 16th Annual Meeting of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies (AJLS), Princeton University. 

August 29, 2007: “The Dissolution of Meaning: Towards an Aesthetics of Non-Sense,” The Fifth Conference of the Asian Society of Arts, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. 

June 10-25, 2007: Seminar, The Waka Tradition,” International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, Japan. 

May 23, 2007, “Japanese Love Poetry,” Guest Lecturer, Fiat Lux Seminar, University of California, Los Angeles. 

May 8, 2007: “Playing with Japanese Songs: Politics or Pleasure?” Nichibei Foundation, Los Angeles. 

March 10, 2007: “A Journey to Foreign Lands: Traveling with Martin Heidegger and Kuki Shūzō,” Seminar, The Kyōto School: Neglected Themes and Hidden Variations, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. 

October 30, 2006: “A Dialogue on Language between a Japanese and an Inquirer: Kuki Shūzō’s Version,” Center for Japanese Studies, University of California, Berkeley. 

July 2, 2006: “Place of Poetry, Place in Poetry: On Rulers, Poets, and Gods,” Annual Meeting of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies (AJLS), Josai International University, Tokyo. 

April 21, 2006: Chair and organizer of the International Symposium “The Making of an Ancient Capital: Nara,” sponsored by the UCLA Center for Japanese Studies and the Association for Commemorative Events of the 1300th Anniversary of Nara Heijō-kyō Capital. University of California, Los Angeles. 

April 21, 2006: “Putting Nara on the Cultural Map: The Poetry of Aizu Yaichi,” University of California, Los Angeles. 

March 3-4, 2006: Workshop for the compilation of  the Sourcebook in Japanese Philosophy,  “Philosophical Sources in Japanese Confucianism,” Techny Towers  Conference and Retreat Center, Chicago. 

January 28, 2006: “Uta no Kokoro—Aware to Nagusame” (Poetry’s Heart: Pathos and Consolation), Nibei Doctors’ Club, Los Angeles. 

July 19, 2005: “The Creation of an Ancient Capital: Aizu Yaichi, Singer of Nara,” Kobe College. 

July 11, 2005: “Making the Foreign Homely: Martin Heidegger’s and Kuki Shūzō’s Encounter with the Other,” ISEAS/EFEO, Kyoto. 

August 26, 2004: “Conrad Fiedler and the Aesthetics of the Kyōto School,” Third International Congress for Aesthetics, Taipei, Taiwan. 

November 21-23, 2003: Chair and Organizer of the Twelfth Annual Meeting of theAssociation for Japanese Literary Studies (AJLS), “Hermeneutical Strategies: Methods of Interpretation in the Study of Japanese Literature,” University of California, Los Angeles. 

October 5, 2002: “Poetry and Poetics in Tension: Kuki Shūzō’s French and German Connections,” Eleventh Annual Meeting of AJLS, Purdue University. 

July 2, 2002: "Representations of Power: Literary Politics in Medieval Japan,” NEH Seminar “Empowering Relationships in Japanese Intellectual and Institutional History,” East West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. 

July 2, 2002: “A New Field of Authority: Modern Japanese Aesthetics,” NEH Seminar “Empowering Relationships in Japanese Intellectual and Institutional History,” East West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. 

July 3, 2002: Roundtable and Discussion with Lucy Lower, James Brandon, and Thomas Kasulis, NEH Seminar “Empowering Relationships in Japanese Intellectual and Institutional History,” East West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. 

April 4, 2002: "A Reading of Kuki Shūzō's (1888-1941) Poetry," Center for East Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania. 

August 27, 2001: "The Aesthetics of Tradition: Making the Past Present," 15th International Congress of Aesthetics, Tokyo, Japan. 

January 29, 2001: "Fields of Contention: Philology (Bunkengaku) and the Philosophy of Literature (Bungeigaku), UCLA-Nichibunken Workshop. University of California, Los Angeles.  

January 29-30, 2001: Organizer of the UCLA-Nichibunken Workshop, sponsored by the International Research Center for Japanese Studies. University of California, Los Angeles. 

February 11, 2000: Chair and organizer of the conference "Texts and Commentaries: Japan's Literary Hermeneutics," sponsored by the UCLA Center for Japanese Studies. University of California, Los Angeles. 

December 13-15, 1998: Chair and organizer of the International Conference, "Japanese Hermeneutics: Current Debates on Aesthetics and Interpretation," sponsored by the Japan Foundation and the UCLA Center for Japanese Studies. University of California, Los Angeles. 

May 11, 1998: "Soft Thought in Japan: The Philosophy of Sakabe Megumi," The University of Turin, Italy. 

October 24, 1997: "The New as Violence and the Hermeneutics of Slimness," University of Michigan. Paper delivered at the 1997 Conference of the Midwest Association for Japanese Literary Studies on "The New Historicism and Japanese Literary Studies." 

April 15, 1997: "Yowaki Shii: Kaishakugaku no Mirai wo Minagara" ("Weak Thought: A Look at the Future of Hermeneutics") (in Japanese), 95th Nichibunken Forum, Japan Foundation, Kyoto, Japan. 

October 3, 1996: "The Field of Modern Japanese Aesthetics: A Few Hermeneutical Strategies," International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Kokusai Nihon Bunka Kenkyū Sentā, Kyoto, Japan. 

May 23, 1996: "From Philology to Philosophy: Motoori Norinaga's Definition of 'Poetry'", The University of Turin, Italy. 

May 20, 1996: "Interpreting Interpretations: Why Japan and Why Literature," The University of Turin, Italy. 

May 16, 1996: "The Impact of German Hermeneutics on Nineteenth-Century Japan," The University of Turin, Italy. 

May 14, 1996: "The Formation of the Japanese Field of Aesthetics in the Meiji Period," The University of Turin, Italy. 

February 6, 1995: "What is Poetry? Motoori Norinaga's Etymological Hermeneutics," The UCLA Center for Japanese Studies, Los Angeles. 

March 5, 1993: "The Japanese Arts of Disguise: Hidden Transcripts and Textual Resistance," University of California, Berkeley. 

October 19, 1992: "Western Definitions of the Japanese Literary Field," University of Southern California, Los Angeles. 

October 6, 1992: "Takamura Kōtarō and the Genealogy of Reclusion," University of Southern California, Los Angeles. 

April 5, 1992: Chair and organizer of the panel Images of Power: Text and Authority in Medieval Japan, Meeting of the Association of Asian Studies, Washington, D.C. 

April 5, 1992: "Representations of Power: as a Source of Shogunal Authority," Meeting of the Association of Asian Studies, Washington D.C. 

March 20, 1989: "Models of Appropriation: The Literature of Gekokujō," University of Southern California, Los Angeles. 

May 25, 1989: "Aesthetic Politics in the Tales of Ise (Ise Monogatari)," Sophia University, Tokyo. 

April 29, 1988: "Innocent Readings and Discontent: Poetry and Politics in the Tales of Ise (Ise Monogatari)," University of California, Santa Barbara. 

March 24, 1988: "Ideological Conflicts in Kenkō's Tsurezuregusa," Meeting of the Association of Teachers of Japanese, San Francisco. 

February 4, 1985: "On the Japanese Buddhist View of History," part two, Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Osaka, Japan. 

January 28, 1985: "On the Japanese Buddhist View of History," part one, Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Osaka, Japan.