Janet A. Walker


Professor of Comparative Literature

Academic Building, Room 4107
College Avenue Campus

Office Hours: T & TH 1:30-2:30  

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Comparative Literature Department Profile Page

Curriculum Vitae

Janet A. Walker teaches courses on world literature, the novel in its European and non-Western manifestations, postcolonial literatures and theories, and modern Japanese literature. She has served as undergraduate director and graduate director of the Comparative Literature Program, and she was instrumental, in 1978, in initiating the teaching of Japanese within the then Department of Chinese, Comparative Literature, and Slavic Languages and Literatures, acting as de facto Japanese program director from 1978-1983. She has been a visiting professor at Princeton University and Columbia University, and she was invited to teach briefly under a West Bengal government grant for the Department of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University in Kolkata. She is the author of The Japanese Novel of the Meiji Period and the Ideal of Individualism (Princeton University Press, 1979) and co-editor of The Woman’s Hand: Gender and Theory in Japanese Women’s Writing (Stanford University Press, 1996). In addition, she has published essays on, among other topics, modern Japanese fiction writers, the classical Japanese woman writer Izumi Shikibu, van Gogh and his image of Japan, and autobiography in Western and Japanese literature.

Education Areas of Specialization
  • Ph.D. Harvard University (Comparative Literature) 1974 
  • M.A. Harvard University (Comparative Literature) 1968
  • B.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison (German) 1965
  • The Novel in its European and Non-Western Forms
  • Modern Japanese Fiction and its Relations with the West 
  • Postcolonial Literatures and Theories (Japan, India, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Africa)
  • World Literature


Selected Articles and Book Chapters
  • “Place, Disease and Modernity in Nagai Kafū’s Sumidagawa.” In Essays in Honour of Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit on the Occasion of her 60th Birthday. Ed. Judit Árokay, Verena Blechinger-Talcott, and Hilaria Gössmann. München: Iudicium Verlag, 2008. 251-275.
  • “Van Gogh, Collector of ‘Japan.’” The Comparatist 32 (May 2008): 82-114.
  • “The Epiphanic Ending of Shiga Naoya’s An’ya kōro (A Dark Night’s Passing, 1921-1937) in a Modernist Context.” Japanese Language and Literature 37.2 (October 2003): 167-193.
  • “The Cinematic Art of Higuchi Ichiyō’s ‘Takekurabe’ (Comparing Heights, 1895-96).” In Word and Image in Japanese Cinema. Ed. Dennis Washburn and Carole Cavanaugh. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 2001. 36-58.
  • “Visiting Flower Meisho (Famous Places) and the Negotiation of Cultural Identity in Texts by Futabatei Shimei and Nagai Kafū.” In Canon and Identity—Japanese Modernization Reconsidered: Trans-Cultural Perspectives. Ed. Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit. Tokyo: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien, 2000. 77-105.
  • An’ya kōro dai ichi no kichō: seiteki jiga no shizenshugiteki tankyū.” Trans. Koyano Atsushi. In “An’ya kōro” o yomu: sekaibungaku to shite no Shiga Naoya (Reading An’ya kōro:: Shiga Naoya as World Literature). Ed. Hirakawa Sukehiro and Tsuruta Kin’ya. Tokyo: Shin’yōdo, 1996. 160-202.
  • “The Russian Role in the Creation of the First Japanese Novel: Futabatei Shimei’s Ukigumo (The Floating Cloud, 1886-89).” In The Hidden Fire: Russian and Japanese Cultural Encounters, 1868-1926. Ed. J. Thomas Rimer. Stanford: StanfordUniversity Press and Washington, D.C.: WoodrowWilsonCenter Press, 1995. 22-37. 
  • “Reading Genres Across Cultures: The Example of Autobiography.” In Reading World Literature: Theory, History, Practice. Ed. Sarah E. Lawall. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994. 203-235.
  • “On the Applicability of the Term 'Novel' to Modern Non-Western Long Fiction.” Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 17 (1988): 47-68.
  • “Poetic Ideal and Fictional Reality in the Izumi Shikibu nikki.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 37 (1977): 135-182.

Courses Taught
  • Modern Japanese Novel and the West (195:329) Cross-listed with Issues in Japanese Literature (565:395)
  • Introduction to Postcolonial Literatures and Theories (195:307) Cross-listed with Advanced Topics in AMESALL (013:401:03)
  • Introduction to World Literature (195:101)(lecture course with 2-5 TAs assigned to it, supervised by Prof. Walker) 
  • Novel East and West (195:331)
  • European Novel (195:352) 
  • Hybrid Modernity in Popular Culture, Literature, and the Arts (195:387)

Selected Awards and Distinctions
  • Guest Researcher, Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies, Free University-Berlin, Berlin, Germany, May 16-July 8, 2010
  • Social Science Research Council Fellowship for Advanced Research on Japan, 2000-2001
  • Social Science Research Council Fellowship for Advanced Research on Japan, 1982-1983
  • Japan Foundation Short-Term Senior Fellowship, Spring 1983

Professional Memberships and Affiliations