Skip to main content
Profile picture for user jpe240
  • Assistant Professor of Japan Studies
  • Modern & Classical Languages Literatures & Cultures
  • Japan Studies
1001 Patterson Office Tower
Other Affiliations:

Joannah Peterson

Research Interests:
Premodern Japanese literature
Intersections between literary and visual form
Japanese visual culture



Ph.D. in Japanese literature; minor: Art History, Indiana University, Bloomington
M.A. in Japanese, Indiana University, Bloomington

B.A. in Psychology; minor: Fine Arts, Centre College, Kentucky


My research explores the ways in which literary and visual forms intersect in premodern Japan, particularly during what is known as the “classical” period, the Heian (794-1185). My research interests include Japanese fiction, narrative picture scrolls (emaki), visual culture, gender studies, narrative voyeurism, intertextuality, reception studies, and spectrality. I am currently at work on a book that analyzes developments in medieval literary and pictorial arts, examining visual and verbal representations of the emperor during the mid-to-late Heian period (1000-1185). More specifically, I demonstrate how artistic re-conceptualizations of imperial power rhyme with changes in the “real world” of late-eleventh century politics, arguing that both minimized the gap between the emperor as a symbol of power and the emperor as a private individual.


“Emperor on Exhibition: Representation of Kingship in Yoru no Nezame and The Nezame Scrolls.” Proceedings of the Association of Japanese Literary Studies, vol. 17, 31-43, Summer, 2016.

“Natsume Sōseki no Yume jūya: Natsume Sōseki o nemurenu yoru ni michibiita fukakujitsusei” (Natsume Sōseki’s Ten Nights of Dreams: The Uncertainty that Kept Sōseki Up at Night). Bunshū: gendai, kindai bungaku, 61-63, Yokohama: Stanford Inter-University Center, 2008.

In progress

Re-imagining Imperial Figures in Late Heian Japan: The Hunger for Visibility in Text and Image. Book manuscript expanded from my dissertation to be completed spring 2025.

“A History of mono no aware: Savoring the Fleeting Moment,” a chapter in Handbook of Japanese Aesthetics under contract with MHM Publishing in Tokyo. Publication scheduled for late 2024/early 2025.

“Re-writing the Margins of Aristocratic Motherhood: The Departed Spirit of Yang Guifei and Female (Dis)Embodiment in Heian Tales.” To be submitted to Japanese Language and Literature fall 2024.

Book reviews:

“Review of Unbinding the Pillow Book: The Many Lives of a Japanese Classic (2018) by Gergana Ivanova.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, vol. 39, no. 2, 349-351, Fall 2020.