Assistant Professor, East Asian Studies
School of Humanities
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2019, Japanese
M.A., St. John's College, Santa Fe, 2013, East Asian Classics
University of California, Irvine
478 Humanities Instructional Building
Mail Code: 6000
Irvine, CA 92697
Japanese Literature, Japanese Cinema, Japanese Sound Media, Critical Plant Studies, Environmental Philosophy, Ecocriticsm, Theories of Environmental Media, Environmental History, Eco-Feminism, New Materialism
My research examines the intersections of Japanese literature and media (including cinema and sound media) and the environmental sciences. My goal is to bring the study of Japan into the growing field of Critical Plant Studies. I am interested in how interdisciplinary work across the humanities and the sciences can foster new interpretive modes for both fields. I look to demonstrate how scientific frameworks such as evolution and ecology have influenced (and continue to influence) Japanese literature and cinema. I believe finding points of contact between literary/filmic texts and the study of the environment can help us better understand our own places within the changing environment of the contemporary moment.
My current project, titled Becoming Botanical: Rethinking the Human through Plant Life in Modern Japan, proposes that vegetation (and the scientific study of plants) offered a number of modern Japanese writers and filmmakers a new model through which to rethink human subjectivity and develop notions of plasticity in response to turbulent historical events. I examine how an intellectual investment in plant life brings together a wide-ranging group of writers and intellectuals from the 1930s to the 2010s: literary authors such as Osaki Midori, Abe Kobo, Haniya Yutaka, Ito Seiko, and Ito Hiromi, ecologist Imanisi Kinji, parascientist Hashimoto Ken, and filmmakers Yanagimachi Mitsuo and Kawase Naomi. I argue that human subjectivity in the texts composed by this group writers and filmmakers is rethought beyond the confines of the human body, beyond conventional sense perception, and also beyond human temporality.
• 2021. Thomas R. H. Havens. Land of Plants in Motion: Japanese Botany and the World. Monumenta Nipponica, 76: 1. 163-167.
• 2020. “Living Trees and Dying Trees”. Translation of "Ikiteiru ki to shindeiku ki" from Kodama kusadama by Ito Hiromi. Asymptote Journal. October 2020. https://www.asymptotejournal.com/nonfiction/ito-hiromi-living-trees-and-dying-trees/