Sakaki, Atsuko

Atsuko Sakaki (Ph.D., UBC)
Department of East Asian Studies
Centre for Comparative Literature
Office Phone: 416-946-7362
Office Location: Robarts Library #14149 (14th Floor)

Atsuko Sakaki is Professor in the Department of East Asian Studies and a member of the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. Her work revolves around close reading of classical to contemporary Japanese texts that manifest self-reflexivity, and engagement of theories of narratology, gender relations, cross-cultural analysis and phenomenology. Her previous SSHRC-funded project, “Corporeality and Spatiality in Modern Japanese Literature,” has culminated in a number of publications and several invited lectures and papers read at international conferences. In April 2005, she organized a workshop on the topic at the University of Toronto.
Her current project for which she has received a SSHRC standard research fellowship and a Jackman Humanities Institute faculty research fellowship, is the first attempt at accounting for the complex relationship between photography and fiction in the case of four critically acclaimed and internationally renowned modern Japanese novelists and critics of visual culture: Tanizaki Jun’ichirô, Abe Kôbô, Kanai Mieko, and Horie Toshiyuki. Their works articulate photographic rhetoric—rhetoric that involves such aspects of the medium as the volatile relationship between object and viewer (as in voyeurism), photographs not as printed images but as tangible and three-dimensional objects of fetishism, photography not as a neutral means of representation but as a performative act in itself, and photography not as an archive of the past but as a threat to the everyday of the present. Being informed by works in film studies, phenomenology, semiology, and theories of visual art, her work aspires to fill the gap in scholarly attention to the ubiquitous and definitive form of visual representation that photography is in modern Japan. Given the current state of Japanese literary studies, wherein the impact of the visual register on the novel has been fully recognized, her work will complement the understanding of cinematic rhetoric with that of the photographic way of making sense of space, time, and subjectivity.

Academic Background:

  • Ph.D. in Asian Studies, University of British Columbia (1992)
  • M.A. in Comparative Literature and Culture, University of Tokyo (1988)


  • Dr. Sakaki has published articles and reviews in academic journals including Monumenta Nipponica, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, Journal of Japanese Studies, Journal of Asian Studies, Japanese Language and Literature, Japan Forum, and Kokubungaku kaishaku to kanshô. Her publications, in the areas of cross-cultural studies, narrative studies and gender studies appeared as:
    -Sakaki, A. Obsessions with the Sino-Japanese Polarity in Japanese Literature. Hawaii: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2005.
    -Sakaki, A. Recontextualizing Texts: Narrative Performance in Modern Japanese Fiction(Harvard East Asian Monographs). Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 1999.
    -Kurahahsi, Yumiko and Sakaki, A. The Woman with the Flying Head and Other Stories by Kurahashi Yumiko. New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1998.
    -two books in Japanese.

Comments are closed.