Eve Zimmerman

Professor of Japanese

Focused on Japanese literature, how female writers refashion the category of "girlhood" in postwar fiction, manga, and memoir.

I am working on a book on how the fluid category of “girlhood” is used by female writers and manga artists in postwar Japan to express views on gender, sexuality, and history. My first book, Out of the Alleyway: Nakagami Kenji and the Poetics of Outcaste Fiction, is a literary “ethnography” of a key Japanese writer from the burakumin (outcaste) class. It gave rise to a second project, which I’m doing in collaboration with architectural historian, Claire Zimmerman, on representations of Japanese folk architecture in photography. I do translation and I’ve published a collection of Nakagami’s short stories, the autobiography of a Japanese strawberry farmer in California, and most recently, another Nakagami story for the Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories, edited by Jay Rubin.

I teach across the field of modern Japanese literature and visual culture. My favorite courses are one on the Japanese supernatural, which explores how old myths and strange beings shaped the formation of modern consciousness, and another on coming-of-age narratives in East Asia, which is cross listed with Comparative Literature. My other courses include fourth-year Japanese, postwar Japanese fiction and, especially, Japanese film. I’ve supervised a variety of honors theses and independent projects, from mech anime to translations of the fiction of Yukio Mishima, Amy Yamada, and Yoshimoto Banana.

Having recently completed a four-year stint as chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, I’m looking forward to building a collaborative Newhouse Center community. In the department, my colleagues and I created a new major that foregrounds connections between East Asian cultures, with a foundational course, “Gateways to East Asia,” and we initiated a collaboration with the Economics Department. In my time at Wellesley, I’ve also directed the East Asian Studies program and served on a number of college-wide committees.

In the larger world, I most recently served on the Program Committee for the Association for Asian Studies as well as the New England representative to AAS. Before that, I did a term as a member of the Executive Board of the Association of Teachers of Japanese. Reviewing journal articles and books written by upcoming scholars (Duke, Harvard, etc.) remains a priority for me.

My two daughters grew up on the green Wellesley campus, and now fully grown, they’ve developed the urge to travel. I tag along sometimes: three weeks in Chile and soon to Portugal and Spain. I also like to strike out on my own.

Recent Publications:

“Remaining Flowers,” by Nakagami Kenji, trans. Eve Zimmerman, Penguin Collection of Contemporary Japanese Fiction, ed., Jay Rubin, September 2018: 140-149.

Afterword to Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, In Praise of Shadows (trans. Gregory Starr), 87-91.

“The Child of Memory: City Topoi in Tsushima Yūko’s Short Fiction of the 1980s,” in Tokyo: Space, Text, Memory, Barbara Thornbury and Evelyn Schulz, eds., Maryland: Lexington Books, 2017: 159-178.

“Angels and Elephants: Historical Allegories in Ogawa Yōko’s 2006 Mīna no kōshin (Mena’s Procession),” U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, vol. 49 (2016): 68- 96.

Co-authored with Claire Zimmerman, “Ethnographic Architectural Photography: Futagawa Yukio and Nihon no minka,” Journal of Architecture 20:4 (2015): 718-750.


Out of the Alleyway: Nakagami Kenji and the Poetics of Outcaste Fiction

The Cape and Other Stories from the Japanese Ghetto


  • B.A., University of Pennsylvania
  • Ph.D., Columbia University

Current and upcoming courses

  • In 1776, the Japanese writer Ueda Akinari set down a famous collection of ghost stories entitled Tales of Moonlight and Rain. Beginning with this collection, we will explore how representations of the supernatural were both embedded in and transformed by discourses of modernity. Throughout the twentieth century, writers such as Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Izumi Kyoka, and Enchi Fumiko kept the supernatural strand alive. In tales of the fantastic and the strange, they also made trenchant commentary on the state of their society. We read (and contrast) literary and visual texts to explore alternative visions of Japan's rush to modernize.