Najita Distinguished Lecture in Japanese Studies

Lecture Series

March 7, 2016

Symposium, 10:00-7:30pm; Keynote, 4:30pm

Assembly Hall, Coulter Lounge

The Tetsuo Najita Distinguished Lecture series was launched in 2007 by the Committee on Japanese Studies at the Center for East Asian Studies to honor the legacy of Tetsuo Najita, Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History and of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and his contribution to the university during his long career. This year’s lecture will be given by Yoko Tawada.

A one-day symposium titled “Where Literature Begins: The Practice and Poetics of Multilingual Address” will accompany the lecture. The panelists for the symposium are: J. Keith Vincent (Boston University), Brett de Bary (Cornell University), Bettina Brandt (Penn State), Yasemin Yildiz (UIC), Andrew Long (Northwestern).

For detailed information about the panelists and their research, please visit

About Yoko Tawada

Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960, moved to Hamburg when she was twenty-two, and then to Berlin in 2006. She writes in both Japanese and German, and has published several books—stories, novels, poems, plays, essays—in both languages. She has received numerous awards for her writing including the Akutagawa Prize, the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, and the Goethe Medal. New Directions publishes her story collections Where Europe Begins (with a Preface by Wim Wenders) and Facing the Bridge, and her novel of Catherine Deneuve obsession, The Naked Eye.

About Tetsuo Najita

Educated at Grinnell College and Harvard University, Tetsuo Najita joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1969. His many publications on Japan’s early modern and modern intellectual history include Hara Kei and the Politics of Compromise (1967), which was awarded the John King Fairbank Prize in East Asian History, and Visions of Virtue: The Kaitokudô Merchant Academy of Osaka (1987), which won the Yamagata Bantô Prize. Since his retirement in 2002, Tetsuo Najita has continued his work. In 2008, he published a new work in Japanese on the topic of “doing intellectual history,” and in 2009 the University of California Press published his most recent monograph in English, Ordinary Economies in Japan: A Historical Perspective, 1759-1950. This impressive body of scholarship, which combined theoretical rigor with rock-solid research, and which was ordered by the assertion that historians must always engage with the moral and political issues of our time, served as an inspiration to the many undergraduate and graduate students whom he trained.

In addition to this distinguished record of scholarship and teaching, during his thirty-three year tenure at the university, Tetsuo Najita dedicated much energy to building the Japan Studies program, while playing a leading role within the History Department and the Social Science Division. He served as Director of the Center for East Asian Studies from 1974-1980, Master of the Social Science Collegiate Division from 1984-1987 and Chair of the History Department for 1994-1997 and in spring 2001.

Free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Global Voices Lecture Series, the Center for East Asian Studies, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, and the Department of Germanic Studies.