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Doris G. Bargen

Professor Emerita, Japanese

Doris G. Bargen, PhD, Universität Tübingen, has recently retired from her position as Professor of Japanese Studies and Honors Program Director for Japanese at UMass Amherst. She is known internationally as a scholar of the Japanese classic, The Tale of Genji, and has lectured on the topic in Japan and the United States. Most recently, she was invited to the Humboldt Universität Berlin to present a paper on Mori Ōgai at an international symposium. She has been active in organizing lectures, conferences, and symposia, and she served on many University committees and councils, such as the Research Council and the Commonwealth Honors College Council.

Her essays on The Tale of Genji have appeared in Mosaic (1986), The Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (1988 and 1991 [rpt. in Harold Bloom’s collection on The Tale of Genji, 2004]), Approaches to Teaching Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji (1993), Genji kenkyū (1999), and a Festschrift for Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit (Iudicium, 2008). Bargen’s publications on Heian culture culminated in two interdisciplinary studies, A Woman’s Weapon: Spirit Possession in The Tale of Genji (University of Hawai`i Press, 1997) andMapping Courtship and Kinship in Classical Japan: The Tale of Genji and its Predecessors (University of Hawai`i Press, forthcoming 2015).

She has also published a number of essays on modern Japanese literature, including one on Kawabata Yasunari in the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (1992), two on Enchi Fumiko – in Monumenta Nipponica (1991) and in The Woman’s Hand: Gender and Theory in Japanese Women’s Writing(Stanford, 1996), and two on Mori Ōgai – in Monumenta Nipponica (2012) and in “Ōgai” – Mori Rintarō: Begegnungen mit dem japanischen homme de lettres (Harrassowitz, 2014). In her monograph, Suicidal Honor: General Nogi and the Writings of Mori Ōgai and Natsume Sōseki (University of Hawai`i Press, 2006), Bargen explored the national crises that exposure to the West triggered during the Bakumatsu and Meiji-Taishō periods. Her current research is about assassins and avengers in Japanese literature.

Research Areas

  • Classical, Medieval, and Modern Japanese literature and culture
  • samurai culture
  • Japanese art and architecture
  • Japanese film


  • A Woman’s Weapon: Spirit Possession in The Tale of Genji (University of Hawai`i Press, 1997)
  • Suicidal Honor: General Nogi in the Writings of Mori Ōgai and Natsume Sōseki (University of Hawai`i Press, 2006)
  • Mapping Courtship and Kinship in Classical Japan: The Tale of Genji and its Predecessors (University of Hawai`i Press, 2015)
  • articles in Monumenta Nipponica, the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Mosaic, Genji kenkyū, Trans-Asia Photography Review
  • chapters in various scholarly books  

Awards and Accolades

  • CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book Award; Honors Coordinator Award
  • Fulbright-Hays, National Endowment for the Humanities, Social Science Research Council, Japan Foundation, Healey Endowment Grant, Research Support Grant  

Courses Recently Taught

Japanese 135: Japanese Arts and Culture

Japanese 143: Courtly Romance and Warrior Epic

Japanese 499C: The Samurai

Japanese 499D: Rebels and Martyrs