UMass Boston

Teruko Kawashima

Asian Studies

Areas of Expertise

Heian and medieval Japanese literature and culture


PhD, Harvard University

Professional Publications & Contributions

Additional Information

Terry Kawashima earned her BA from Cornell University in Asian Studies and Art History, an M.A. from Harvard University in Regional Studies – East Asia, and a PhD from Harvard University in premodern Japanese literature from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations.  She specializes in literature and culture of the Heian and medieval periods in Japan (800-1500), with a particular interest in how texts envision and contribute to the construction of authority, legitimacy, and power in social, political, religious, and gendered arenas.  She is the author of two books: Writing Margins: The Textual Construction of Gender in Heian and Kamakura Japan, about gendered discourses of marginalization in poetry and prose, and Itineraries of Power: Texts and Traversals in Heian and Medieval Japan, about narrative strategies of movement, such as representations of exile and divine travel.  She is currently working on a project on tropes of rebirth in premodern and modern Japan; her article, “Transmigration and Metaphor in Hamamatsu Chūnagon monogatari,” is part of this project.

Professor Kawashima teaches a range of interdisciplinary, comparative courses on Asian cultures, including ASIAN/MLLC 265L: Icons of East Asia: Stereotypes, gender, and cultural history from “geisha girls” to “martial masters", ASIAN/MLLC 155L: Great Books of East Asia: Classics of Love and War, ASIAN/MLLC 488L: The Idea of Asia, and ASIAN/MLLC 366L Re-made in Asia: Tellings and Re-tellings from The Buddha to Godzilla.  She also teaches Japan-specific courses, such as JAPAN/ASIAN 252L: Premodern Japanese Culture.

Since arriving at UMass Boston, she has served as Director of the Asian Studies Program, and then Chair of the Asian Studies Department.