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Bruce Baird

Associate Professor; Graduate Program Director of Japanese

Bruce Baird, Associate Professor, UMass Amherst

(413) 577-2117

439 Herter Hall

Bruce Baird received his B.A. from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in Japanese language and literature from University of Pennsylvania. Research interests include Japanese dance (butoh), Japanese philosophy, Japanese new media studies, and Japanese performance. Teaching responsibilities include Japanese theater, Japanese manga and anime, Japanese video games, and Japanese film.

His book Hijikata Tatsumi and Butoh: Dancing in a Pool of Gray Grits (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) is a lively examination of the formation of the dance form butoh—one of the most important dance forms of the 20th century. In it, Baird argues that butoh (also known as butô) should be seen as a bodily response to the conflicts in Japan in the 1960-1980s, and as an embodiment of the information age. This book was nominated for the 2012-2013 biannual International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize. He is currently working on a broader history of butoh, which will examine how the art changed and evolved as it spread beyond Tokyo to the world. He is the recipient of two Fulbright Fellowships.

Research Areas

  • Butoh and Japanese dance
  • Japanese performance
  • Japanese new media studies including manga, anime and video games
  • Japanese philosophy and intellectual history



Hijikata Tatsumi and Butoh: Dancing in a Pool of Gray Grits. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2012.

Articles or Book Chapters

“Butoh.” Focus Chapter. A History of Japanese Theatre. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, Feb 2016. 1000 words.

“Butô: The Birth and Maturation of a New Global Art Form.” East Asia in the World: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2015, pp. 243-260.

“Becoming Universal/Butô no kitarubeki fuhensei.” ArtLet 42 (Sept. 2014), 4-5.

“Hijikata Tatsumi and Butô.” SFAQ (San Francisco Arts Quarterly) no. 14 (Fall 2013), 72-77.

“Embraced by the (Spot) Light: Ôno Kazuo and the Postmodernism of Butô and Admiring La Argentina.” Edited by Glenn Adamson et al. Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990. Victoria and Albert Museum, 2011, pp. 208-211.

“Butô: Dance of Difference.” In A Processive Turn: The Video Aesthetics of Edin Vélez. Edited by Jorge Daniel Veneciano. Rutgers, NJ: Paul Robison Galleries, 2007, pp. 42-49.

“Opposites Attract and then Alter Each Other: Edin Vélez’s Dance of Darkness and Butô.” In A Processive Turn: The Video Aesthetics of Edin Vélez. Edited by Jorge Daniel Veneciano. Rutgers, NJ: Paul Robison Galleries, 2007, pp. 50-67.

“Structureless in Structure: the Choreographic Tectonics in Hijikata Tatsumi’s Butô.” In Modern Japanese Theater and Performance. Edited by David Jortner, et al. Lanham MD: Lexington Books, 2006, pp. 93-108. Peer Reviewed.

“Metaphorical Miscegenation in Memoirs: the Literary Activities of Hijikata Tatsumi.” In Hermeneutical Strategies: Methods of Interpretation in the Study of Japanese Literature. PAJLS vol. 5 (Summer 2004): 369-385.


“Hijikata Tatsumi’s Notational Butoh” DVD Script, and Voice Narration. Hijikata Tatsumi Archive, RCAAA and Research Institute for Digital Media and Content, Keio University, 2008. 10 Pages.

The Iconology of Rose-Colored Dance: Reconstructing Tatsumi Hijikata (Barairo Dansu no Ikonorojii: Hijikata Tatsumi o Saikôchiku Suru), (Individual articles by Sumi Yôichi, Morishita Takashi, Maeda Fujio, and Yanai Yasuhiro.) Tokyo: Research Center for the Arts and Arts Administration, Keio University, 2000.

Other Publications

“Find a Penny,” New York Times May 8, 2007.

Courses Recently Taught

Japanese 597K: Japanese Video Games
Japanese 197L: Manga and Anime
Japanese 235: Japanese Drama and Theater
Japanese 197E: Japanese Cinema
Japanese 456: Japanese Avant-garde Theater and Dance
Japanese 560: Japanese Modern Philosophy