Skip to Content

Alisa Freedman

Alisa Freedman profile picture
  • Title: Professor, Japanese Literature & Film
  • Additional Title: Editor-in-Chief, U.S.-Japan Women's Journal
  • Phone: 541-979-7794
  • Office: 404 Friendly Hall
  • Affiliated Departments: Asian Studies
  • Interests: Modern Japanese literature, popular culture, youth culture, visual media, digital culture, urban studies, and gender


B.A., Wesleyan University
M.A. and Ph.D., University of Chicago

Biographical Note

Alisa Freedman is a Professor of Japanese Literature and Film at the University of Oregon. Much of her interdisciplinary work investigates how the modern urban experience has shaped human subjectivity, cultural production, and gender roles. Another major theme is the globalization of culture. She strives to show how literature and visual media can provide a deeper understanding of society, politics, and economics. Alisa has published widely on Japanese modernism, urban studies, youth culture, media discourses about gender norms, humor as social critique, popular culture representation of Japan’s lost generation, and the intersection of literature and digital media. She is currently preparing a book manuscript about the forgotten story Japanese women who studied abroad in the United States between 1949 and 1966 and went on to become the forgotten mothers of academic fields and to contribute in unexpected ways to U.S.-Japan relations. Her collaborative projects include a study of legal and ethical issues in Japanese popular culture, “Bundan Snark: Writing and Fighting in Modern Japan,” and “Ruinscapes in Japan, China, and the United States.” Additionally, Alisa is exploring future of the book using Japanese literature as an example and is involved in several literary translation projects. She enjoys participating in academic events for non-specialist audiences, such as anime cons, Japan festivals, TEDx, Nerd Nite Tokyo, and Quack Chats. 

Alisa is the Faculty Fellow for Hamilton Residence Hall. She has served as the Resident Director of Oregon study abroad programs in Tokyo and as the EALL Director for Undergraduate Studies. Alisa was the recipient of the University of Oregon 2016 Outstanding Faculty Advising Award. She has been nationally recognized for excellence in mentoring (NACADA Award for Excellence in Faculty Advising, 2017).  

In addition, Alisa is the Editor in Chief for the U.S.Japan Women’s Journal (biannual, peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal) –


Classes for 2018-2019 (Subject to change)

JPN 199: Japanese Popular Culture in the World (Also taught as a Freshman Seminar)

JPN 306: Introduction to Japanese Culture, 1600-1950

JPN 410/510: Topic in Contemporary Japanese literature, cultural studies, gender, and society to be decided. 

JPN 607: Graduate Seminar. Topic to be decided in consultation with graduate students. 

Other UO Courses (Full list can be provided.):

ASIA 111: Great Books of Asia (Co-Taught with 3 faculty)

JPN 199: New Japanese Film

JPN 407/507: Japanese Urban Cultures

JPN 407/507: Gender, Media, and Japan

JPN 410/510: Digital Age Stories in Japan and the United States

ASIA 410/510: Global Japan: Cultural Exchange, Transpacific Journeys, and Academic Explorations

JPN 425/525: Japanese Literary Trends, 1950-2016

JPN 425/525: Tokyo in Japanese Literature, Parts I and II

JPN 425/525: Contemporary Japanese Literature

JPN 425/525: Japanese Youth Culture: Explaining Disaster and Defining Nation (Also taught as an Honors College Colloquium)

JPN 607: Natsume Sōseki’s Century (Graduate Seminar)

JPN 607: Future of the Book (Graduate Seminar)

JPN 607: State of the Field of Japanese Studies  (Graduate Seminar)

JPN 610: Japan's Global Media (Graduate Seminar)

JPN 610: Issues in Contemporary Japanese Studies (Graduate Seminar)


Books -

Introducing Japanese Popular Culture. Co-edited with Toby Slade. 40-chapter volume. (Routledge, 2017). Specifically designed for use on a range of undergraduate and graduate courses, Introducing Japanese Popular Culture is a comprehensive textbook offering an up-to-date overview of a wide variety of media forms. It uses particular case studies as a way into examining the broader themes in Japanese culture and provides a thorough analysis of the historical and contemporary trends that have shaped artistic production, as well as, politics, society, and economics. As a result, more than being a time capsule of influential trends, this book teaches enduring lessons about how popular culture reflects the societies that produce and consume it. Book website with teaching resources:

Tokyo in Transit: Japanese Culture on the Rails and Road. (Stanford University Press, 2010). Using an approach that crosses the fields of history, literature, and cultural studies, this book explores the ways mass transportation changed Tokyo’s social fabric, giving rise to gender roles that have come to represent modern Japan. The world’s largest transport system, Tokyo trains and buses are social and cultural spaces different from other metropolitan commuter networks and provide a more distilled means of observing the effects of urbanization than other public places afford.

Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan. Co-edited with Christine Yano and Laura Miller (Stanford University Press, 2013). This collection profiles women who worked in jobs related to notions of physical and social mobility. These women, often conspicuous in their uniforms, have influenced social roles, patterns of daily life, and Japan’s global image. They have been integral to the national workforce but have been overlooked by scholars.

Annotated translation of Yasunari Kawabata, The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa (Asakusa kurenaidan), Illustrated by Ota Saburo, Foreword and Afterword by Donald Richie. (University of California Press, 2005).

Guest Editor of Journal Special Issues -

Review of Japanese Culture and Society. Volume XXVII. Special Issue in Honor of Kyoko Selden. December 2015. 23 literary translations and essays.

Japan Forum. Volume 26. Issue 2. (May 2014) Special issue on “Geographies of Childhood: Japanese Negotiations of Global Children’s Culture.”  8 articles.

Japan Forum. Volume 21. Issue 1 (March 2009) Special issue on “Japanese Urban Nonsense.” 7 articles.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles (Full list can be provided.) -

“Japanese Emoji and Cultural Literacy: Who is Crying with Joy?” First Monday: Peer-Reviewed Journal on the Internet. Special issue on “Emoji Epistemology.” Edited by Joel Gn and Crystal Abidin. Forthcoming in 2018.

Sesame Street’s Place in Japan: Marketing Multicultural New York in Cosmopolitan Tokyo, Japan Forum 26: 2. Special issue on “Geographies of Childhood.” Pages 144-163. May 2014.

“The Homeless Junior High School Student Phenomenon: Personalising a Social Problem." Japanese Studies 31 (3). Pages 387-403. December 2011.

“‘Count What You Have Now. Don’t Count What You Don’t Have’: The Japanese Television Drama Around 40 and the Politics of Happiness” Co-authored with Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt. Asian Studies Review. Pages 295-313. September 2011.

Train Man and the Gender Politics of Japanese ‘Otaku’ Culture: The Rise of New Media, Nerd    Heroes, and Fan Communities,” Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, April 2009.   Reprinted in Patrick Galbraith,, eds., Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan: Historical Perspectives and New Horizons. Bloomsbury Press, 2015.

“Street Nonsense: Ryūtanji Yū and the Fascination for Interwar Tokyo Absurdity,” Japan Forum 21 (1). Special issue on “Japanese Urban Nonsense.” Pages 11-33. March 2009.

“Stories of Boys and Buildings: Ishida Ira’s 4-Teen in 2002 Tokyo,” Japan Forum, Special Issue on Tokyo in Literature. Pages 381-398. November 2006.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters (Full list can be provided.) –

“Parody: Chiemi Blouson with B.” Media Keywords: Japan and Beyond. Edited by Jason G. Karlin and Patrick W. Galbraith. Under contract with Bloomsbury in 2018.

“Romance of the Taishō Schoolgirl in Shōjo Manga: Here Comes Miss Modern.” In Shōjo Across Media: Multidisciplinary Approaches. Edited by Jaqueline Berndt, Kazumi Nagaike, Fusami Ogi. Forthcoming from Palgrave MacMillan. 

“Thumb-Generation Literature: The Rise and Fall of Japanese Cellphone Novels.” In Introducing Japanese Popular Culture. Edited by Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade. Routledge, 2017.

“Tokyo Love Story: Romance of the Workingwoman in Japanese Television Dramas.” In Introducing Japanese Popular Culture. Edited by Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade. Routledge, 2017. 

“Introducing Japanese Popular Culture: Serious Approaches to Playful Delights.” In Introducing Japanese Popular Culture. Edited by Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade. Routledge, 2017.

“Cellphone and Internet Novels: How Digital Literature Changed Print Books.” In Routledge Companion to Global Internet Histories. Edited by Mark McLelland and Gerald Goggin. Routledge, 2017. Pages 412-424.

Death Note, Student Crimes, and the Power of Universities in the Global Spread of Manga,” In End of Cool Japan?: Ethical, Legal, and Cultural Challenges to Japanese Popular Culture. Edited by Mark McLelland. Routledge, 2016. Pages 31-50.

“Kawabata Yasunari’s The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa and Stories of Prewar Tokyo.” In Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature. Edited by Rachael Hutchinson and Leith Morton. Routledge, 2016. Pages 42-54.

“Traversing Tokyo by Subway.” In Cartographic Japan: A Reader. Edited by Kären Wigen,Fumiko Sugimoto, and Cary Karacas. University of Chicago Press, 2016. Pages 214-217.

“Working Women and Romance on Japanese Television Dramas: Changes Since Tokyo Love Story.” In Television Histories in Asia: Issues and Contexts. Edited by Jinna Fay and Graeme Turner. Routledge, 2015. Pages 112-126. 

“Bus Guides Tour National Landscapes, Pop Culture, and Youth Fantasies,” In Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan. Edited by Alisa Freedman, Laura Miller, and Christine Yano. Stanford University Press, 2013. Pages 107-130.

“You Go, Girl! Cultural Meanings of Gender, Mobility, and Labor.” Co-authored with Laura Miller and Christine Yano. In Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan. Edited by Alisa Freedman, Laura Miller, and Christine Yano. Pages 1-20. Stanford University Press, 2013.

“Buildings and Urine: Modernist Nansensu Literature and the Absurdity of 1920s and 1930s Tokyo.” In Nonsense and Other Senses: Dysfunctional Communication and Regulated Absurdity in Literature. Edited by Elisabetta Tarantino and Carlo Caruso. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009. Pages 237-257.

Peer-Reviewed Encyclopedia Chapters -

Onna ga kaidan o agaru toku/ When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960).” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Films. Edited by Sabine Haenni, Sarah Barrow, and John White.Routledge, 2014, pages 398-401.

Tasogare Seibei/Twilight Samurai (2002).” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Films. Edited by Sabine Haenni, Sarah Barrow, and John White. Routledge, 2014, pages 509-511.

Non-Peer-Reviewed Articles in Peer-Reviewed Publications -

“Editor’s Note,U.S.Japan Women’s Journal. Commemorative issue. No. 51 (May 2017): 3-4.

“Introduction to the Special Issue in Honor of Kyoko Selden,” Review of Japanese Culture and Society. Volume XXVII. Special issue in Honor of Kyoko Selden. December 2015. Pages 6-10.

“Introduction to the Special Issue on Geographies of Childhood: Japanese Versions of Global Children’s Culture,” Japan Forum 26: 2: 139-143. Non-peer reviewed introduction to a special issue.

Selected Literary Translations (Full list can be provided.) - 

Osaki Midori, Wanderings in the Realm of the Seventh Sense (Dai nana kankai hōkō). Novel co-translation with Kyoko Selden. Review of Japanese Culture and Society XXVII. December 2015. Pages 220-274.

Sakiyama Tami, Swaying, Swinging (Yuratiiku yuretiiku). Novel co-translation with Kyoko Selden. In Islands of Protest: Japanese Literature from Okinawa. Edited by Davinder Bhowmik and Steve Rabson. University of Hawai’i Press, 2016. Pages 161-220.

Ryūtanji Yū, “Pavement Snapshots.” Short story co-translation with Angela Yiu. In Three-Dimensional Reading: Modernism and Spatial Configuration in Interwar Japanese Fiction (1910s –1930s) Edited by Angela Yiu. University of Hawai’i Press, 2013. Pages 123-141.

Nagai Kafū, “Ukiyo-e Landscapes and Edo Scenic Places” (Ukiyo-e no sansuiga to Edo meisho). Essay co-translation with Kyoko Selden, Review of Japanese Culture and Society XXIV.  December 2012. Pages 210-232.

Uehara Noboru, “Our Gang Age, 1970.” Short story co-translation with Kyoko Selden, Review of Japanese Culture and Society XXIII. December 2011. Pages 211-224.

Shōji Kaoru, Watch Out, Little Red Riding Hood!. Novel excerpt co-translation with Kyoko Selden, Review of Japanese Culture and Society XXIII. December 2011. Pages 224-230.

Kawabata Yasunari, The Corpse Introducer (Shitai shōkainin). Novella included in Tokyo in Transit: Japanese Culture on the Rails and Road, Stanford University Press, 2010. Pages 225-266.

Medoruma Shun, The Wind Sound (Fūon). Novella co-translation with Kyoko Selden, Review of Japanese Culture and Society XXI. Winter 2009. Pages 137-172.

Ogawa Yōko, “Transit” (Toranjitto), More Stories by Japanese Women Writers, Kyoko Selden, ed., M.E. Sharpe, 2011. Pages 117-138. Also published in Review of Japanese Culture and Society XV and XVI, December 2003 and December 2004.

Saegusa Kazuko, “The Cherry Blossom Train” (Sakura densha). Short story co-translation with Kyoko Selden, More Stories by Japanese Women Writers, Kyoko Selden, ed., M.E. Sharpe, 2011. Pages 86-95. Also published in Review of Japanese Culture and Society XVI. December 2004.   

Blog Posts and Online Talks 

“The Forgotten Story of Japanese Women Who Studied in the United States, 1949-1966. CSWS Annual Review 2016. Center for the Study of Women and Society, University of Oregon. Pages 12-14.

“Digital Age Stories in Japan and the United States.” Professor Picks Feature, New Media and Culture Certificate Program Website, February 2015.

“Emoji and Cultural Literacy.” Nerd Nite Tokyo (July 2018).

“How Japanese Exchange Students Shaped Japan’s Postwar Development,” TEDxFulbright. February 2018.

Exhibit Curated - “Exchange Students as Cultural Ambassadors: The Forgotten Story of Japanese Women Who Studied in the United States, 1949-1966.” UO Libraries. Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 –

List of additional publications in English and Japanese can be provided.