Robert Goree

Associate Professor of Japanese

Focused on Japanese language, literature, and culture.

I am an interpreter and historian of Japanese culture from the pre-modern period to the present. My courses engage with the sweep of premodern Japanese literary history, the cultural history of the Edo period (1603-1867), Japanese popular culture from the 1600s onward, and contemporary Japanese fiction and essays in the original language. I also teach the premodern literature and thought of China, Japan, and Korea in comparative perspective. Increasingly, my courses explore contemplative practices, environmental concerns, and visual culture.

My research is anchored in the literature, history and cultural geography of the Edo period, and has appeared in the journal Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, and in books such as Cartographic Japan: A History in Maps (Chicago University Press) and Publishing the Stage: Print and Performance in Early Modern Japan (University of Colorado Boulder). My first book, Printing Landmarks: Popular Geography and Meisho Zue in Late Tokugawa Japan (Harvard Asia Center, 2020), which received a DeLong Book History Book Prize commendation, explores why illustrated books about cultural landmarks designed to facilitate virtual travel enjoyed widespread and enduring popularity. "The Culture of Travel in Edo-Period Japan" in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History (Oxford University Press, 2020), is a wide-ranging essay about travel in early modern Japan. My Japanese-to-English translation, The Colors of Meiji Literature: The World of Frontispieces and Book Illustrations, by Tomoyuki Deguchi (Shunyodo, forthcoming), shows why book illustrations are critical to interpreting Meiji-era fiction.

My work is currently moving in several directions, including the poetry and painting of Yosa Buson (1716–1784), contemplative practices in the Edo period, the cultural history of the Kiso Road in Nagano and the island Shōdoshima in the Seto Inland Sea, a broad cultural history of trees in Japan, and the significance of wonder in Japanese culture.

My research has been funded by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Research Fellowship (2007-8), a New Faculty Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (2011-13), and a Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Grant (2017).

Before earning a Ph.D. in Japanese literature at Yale University, I received an M.A. in English literature at Columbia University and attended the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Yokohama. I have worked at the Modern Language Association, McKinsey & Company in Tokyo, and at the Japan Society in New York City as Director of Education. Along the way I have been active as a translator, with work appearing in the popular NHK television program and book series J-bungaku. Prior to Wellesley, I taught at Harvard University, Columbia University, and Boston University.

I have many interests that influence my professional endeavors in one way or another and these include meditating on and off the cushion, doing Brazilian jiujitsu, swimming outdoors throughout the year, spending time with many different kinds of people, making music, reading widely, writing creatively, and traveling with an open mind.


  • B.A., Westmont College
  • M.A., Columbia University
  • M.A., Yale University
  • M.Phil., Yale University
  • Ph.D., Yale University