Profile picture of Alisa Freedman

Alisa Freedman

Professor, Japanese Literature, Cultural Studies, and Gender
Editor-in-Chief, U.S.-Japan Women's Journal
Asian Studies, Comics and Cartoon Studies, East Asian Languages, English, Translation Studies
Phone: 541-979-7794
Office: 404 Friendly Hall
Office Hours: Fridays, 10:30-12:00 on Zoom (Please email for an appointment.)
Research Interests: Modern Japanese literature, popular culture, youth culture, visual media, digital culture, urban studies, and gender


B.A., Wesleyan University
M.A. and Ph.D., University of Chicago


Books - 

Japan on American TV: Screaming Samurai Join Anime Clubs in the Land of the Lost (Association for Asian Studies, Columbia University Press, 2021). Japan on American TV explores political, economic, and cultural issues underlying depictions of Japan on US television comedies and the programs they inspired. Since the 1950s, US television programs have taken the role of “curators” of Japan, displaying and explaining selected aspects for viewers. Beliefs in US hegemony over Japan underpin this curation process.Japan on American TV takes a historical perspective to understand the diversity of Japan parodies. These programs show changing patterns of cultural globalization and perpetuate national stereotypes while verifying Japan’s international influence. Television presents an alternative history of American fascinations with and fears of Japan. Written in an accessible style that will appeal to scholars, teachers, students, and anyone with an interest in Japan and popular culture, as well as an ideal text for classroom use, Japan on American TV offers a gentle means to approach racism, cultural essentialism, cultural appropriation, and issues otherwise difficult to discuss and models new ways to apply knowledge of Asian Studies.

Introducing Japanese Popular Culture: Second Edition (Routledge, 2023; First edition published in 2017). Specifically designed for use on a range of undergraduate and graduate courses, Introducing Japanese Popular Culture is a comprehensive textbook offering an up-to-date overview of a wide variety of media forms. It uses particular case studies as a way into examining the broader themes in Japanese culture and provides a thorough analysis of the historical and contemporary trends that have shaped artistic production, as well as, politics, society, and economics. As a result, more than being a time capsule of influential trends, this book teaches enduring lessons about how popular culture reflects the societies that produce and consume it. The second edition adds six new chapters that expans book's coverage of media events, diversity, and inclusion. The book offers a great deal of content at an affordable price. Book website with teaching resources

Women in Japanese Studies: Memoirs from a Trailblazing Generatio(Forthcoming from Association from Asian Studies, Columbia University Press, 2023). Most books present research and pedagogies. We do something different: We share lives—personal stories of how women scholars earned graduate degrees and began careers bridging Japan and North America between the 1950s and 1980 and balanced professional and personal responsibilities. We challenge the common narrative that Japanese Studies was established by men who worked for the US military after World War II or were from missionary families in Japan. This is only part of the story—the field was also created by women who took advantage of postwar opportunities for studying Japan. Women of this generation were among the first scholars to use Japanese source materials in research published in English and the first foreigners to study at Japanese universities. Their careers benefitted from fellowships, educational developments, activist movements to include the study of women and Asia in university curricula, and measures to prevent gender discrimination. Yet there were instances when, due to their gender, women received smaller salaries, faced hurdles to tenure, and were excluded from, or ignored at, conferences. Our book pioneers a genre of academic memoirs, capturing emotional and intellectual experiences omitted from institutional histories. We offer lively, engaging, thoughtful, brave, empowering stories that start larger conversations about gender and inclusion in the academy and in Japan-American educational exchange.

Tokyo in Transit: Japanese Culture on the Rails and Road. (Stanford University Press, 2010). Using an approach that crosses the fields of history, literature, and cultural studies, this book explores the ways mass transportation changed Tokyo’s social fabric, giving rise to gender roles that have come to represent modern Japan. The world’s largest transport system, Tokyo trains and buses are social and cultural spaces different from other metropolitan commuter networks and provide a more distilled means of observing the effects of urbanization than other public places afford.

Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan. Co-edited with Christine Yano and Laura Miller (Stanford University Press, 2013). This collection profiles women who worked in jobs related to notions of physical and social mobility. These women, often conspicuous in their uniforms, have influenced social roles, patterns of daily life, and Japan’s global image. They have been integral to the national workforce but have been overlooked by scholars.

Annotated translation of Yasunari Kawabata, The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa (Asakusa kurenaidan), Illustrated by Ota Saburo, Foreword and Afterword by Donald Richie. (University of California Press, 2005).

Guest Editor of Journal Special Issues -

Review of Japanese Culture and Society. Volume XXVII. Special Issue in Honor of Kyoko Selden. December 2015. 23 literary translations and essays.

Japan Forum. Volume 26. Issue 2. (May 2014) Special issue on “Geographies of Childhood: Japanese Negotiations of Global Children’s Culture.”  8 articles.

Japan Forum. Volume 21. Issue 1 (March 2009) Special issue on “Japanese Urban Nonsense.” 7 articles.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles (Full list can be provided.) -

“Trekking with Mark McLelland into the Dark Sides of Japanese Popular Culture Studies.” Special issue on “Queering Our Worlds: A Tribute to Mark McLelland.” Intersections:Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific 46 (December 2021).

“Noriko Mizuta: Biocritical Essay of a Literary Feminist and Global Scholar.” Review of Japanese Culture and Society 30 (issue published in 2021 but back dated 2018 for reasons decided by the journal). Pages 11-51.  

“Parody: Chiemi Blouson with B.” Japanese Media and Popular Culture. Edited by Jason G. Karlin and Patrick W. Galbraith. Open Access Digital Initiative at the University of Tokyo. 2020.

“Japanese Emoji and Cultural Literacy: Who is Crying with Joy?” First Monday: Peer-Reviewed Journal on the Internet. Special issue on “Emoji Epistemology.” Edited by Joel Gn and Crystal Abidin. September 2019. 

          Reprinted in  Elena Giannoulis and Lukas R.A. Wilde, eds. Emoticons, Kaomoji, and Emoji: Transformation of Communication in the Digital Age. Routledge, 2019. Pages 44-66.

Sesame Street’s Place in Japan: Marketing Multicultural New York in Cosmopolitan Tokyo, Japan Forum 26: 2. Special issue on “Geographies of Childhood.” Pages 144-163. May 2014.

“The Homeless Junior High School Student Phenomenon: Personalising a Social Problem." Japanese Studies 31 (3). Pages 387-403. December 2011.

“‘Count What You Have Now. Don’t Count What You Don’t Have’: The Japanese Television Drama Around 40 and the Politics of Happiness” Co-authored with Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt. Asian Studies Review. Pages 295-313. September 2011.

Train Man and the Gender Politics of Japanese ‘Otaku’ Culture: The Rise of New Media, Nerd    Heroes, and Fan Communities,” Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, April 2009.   Reprinted in Patrick Galbraith,, eds., Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan: Historical Perspectives and New Horizons. Bloomsbury Press, 2015.

“Street Nonsense: Ryūtanji Yū and the Fascination for Interwar Tokyo Absurdity,” Japan Forum 21 (1). Special issue on “Japanese Urban Nonsense.” Pages 11-33. March 2009.

“Stories of Boys and Buildings: Ishida Ira’s 4-Teen in 2002 Tokyo,” Japan Forum, Special Issue on Tokyo in Literature. Pages 381-398. November 2006.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters (Full list can be provided.) –

“Down in the Dumps: Tokyo Wastelands and Marginalized Groups in Japanese Film.”Japanese Visual Media: Politicizing the Screen, edited by Jennifer Coates and Eyal Ben-Ari. Routledge, 2021. Pages 97-117.

“Romance of the Taishō Schoolgirl in Shōjo Manga: Here Comes Miss Modern.” In Shōjo Across Media: Multidisciplinary Approaches. Edited by Jaqueline Berndt, Kazumi Nagaike, Fusami Ogi. Palgrave MacMillan, 2018. Pages 25-48.

“Thumb-Generation Literature: The Rise and Fall of Japanese Cellphone Novels.” In Introducing Japanese Popular Culture. Edited by Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade. Routledge, 2017. Pages 323-334. 

“Tokyo Love Story: Romance of the Workingwoman in Japanese Television Dramas.” In Introducing Japanese Popular Culture. Edited by Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade. Routledge, 2017. Pages 48-58.

“Introducing Japanese Popular Culture: Serious Approaches to Playful Delights.” In Introducing Japanese Popular Culture. Edited by Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade. Routledge, 2017. Pages 1-10.

“Cellphone and Internet Novels: How Digital Literature Changed Print Books.” In Routledge Companion to Global Internet Histories. Edited by Mark McLelland and Gerald Goggin. Routledge, 2017. Pages 412-424.

Death Note, Student Crimes, and the Power of Universities in the Global Spread of Manga,” In End of Cool Japan?: Ethical, Legal, and Cultural Challenges to Japanese Popular Culture. Edited by Mark McLelland. Routledge, 2016. Pages 31-50.

“Kawabata Yasunari’s The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa and Stories of Prewar Tokyo.” In Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature. Edited by Rachael Hutchinson and Leith Morton. Routledge, 2016. Pages 42-54.

“Traversing Tokyo by Subway.” In Cartographic Japan: A Reader. Edited by Kären Wigen,Fumiko Sugimoto, and Cary Karacas. University of Chicago Press, 2016. Pages 214-217.

“Working Women and Romance on Japanese Television Dramas: Changes Since Tokyo Love Story.” In Television Histories in Asia: Issues and Contexts. Edited by Jinna Fay and Graeme Turner. Routledge, 2015. Pages 112-126. 

“Bus Guides Tour National Landscapes, Pop Culture, and Youth Fantasies,” In Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan. Edited by Alisa Freedman, Laura Miller, and Christine Yano. Stanford University Press, 2013. Pages 107-130.

“You Go, Girl! Cultural Meanings of Gender, Mobility, and Labor.” Co-authored with Laura Miller and Christine Yano. In Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan. Edited by Alisa Freedman, Laura Miller, and Christine Yano. Pages 1-20. Stanford University Press, 2013.

“Buildings and Urine: Modernist Nansensu Literature and the Absurdity of 1920s and 1930s Tokyo.” In Nonsense and Other Senses: Dysfunctional Communication and Regulated Absurdity in Literature. Edited by Elisabetta Tarantino and Carlo Caruso. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009. Pages 237-257.

Peer-Reviewed Encyclopedia Chapters -

Onna ga kaidan o agaru toki/ When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960).” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Films. Edited by Sabine Haenni, Sarah Barrow, and John White.Routledge, 2014, pages 398-401.

Tasogare Seibei/Twilight Samurai (2002).” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Films. Edited by Sabine Haenni, Sarah Barrow, and John White. Routledge, 2014, pages 509-511.

Publishing and Teaching Guides - 

Publishing in Academic Journals: Pro Tips from U.S.–Japan Women’s Journal,” Project Muse, September 2022. 

"Some Atypical (and Charmingly Oddball) Suggestions for Creating Belonging and Community in the Remote Classroom." Co-authored with Julie Voelker-Morris. The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin: Collegial Exchange 87:4. 2021.

Non-Peer-Reviewed Articles in Peer-Reviewed Publications -

Editor’s Introduction: “Celebrating 60+ Issues of U.S.Japan Women’s Journal,Project Muse,.Commemorative issue. September 2022. 

“Editor’s Note,U.S.Japan Women’s Journal. Commemorative issue. No. 51 (May 2017): 3-4.

“Introduction to the Special Issue in Honor of Kyoko Selden,” Review of Japanese Culture and Society. Volume XXVII. Special issue in Honor of Kyoko Selden. December 2015. Pages 6-10.

“Introduction to the Special Issue on Geographies of Childhood: Japanese Versions of Global Children’s Culture,” Japan Forum 26: 2: 139-143. Non-peer reviewed introduction to a special issue.

Selected Literary Translations (Full list can be provided.) - 

Osaki Midori, Wanderings in the Realm of the Seventh Sense (Dai nana kankai hōkō). Novel co-translation with Kyoko Selden. Review of Japanese Culture and Society XXVII. December 2015. Pages 220-274.

Sakiyama Tami, Swaying, Swinging (Yuratiiku yuretiiku). Novel co-translation with Kyoko Selden. In Islands of Protest: Japanese Literature from Okinawa. Edited by Davinder Bhowmik and Steve Rabson. University of Hawai’i Press, 2016. Pages 161-220.

Ryūtanji Yū, “Pavement Snapshots.” Short story co-translation with Angela Yiu. In Three-Dimensional Reading: Modernism and Spatial Configuration in Interwar Japanese Fiction (1910s –1930s) Edited by Angela Yiu. University of Hawai’i Press, 2013. Pages 123-141.

Nagai Kafū, “Ukiyo-e Landscapes and Edo Scenic Places” (Ukiyo-e no sansuiga to Edo meisho). Essay co-translation with Kyoko Selden, Review of Japanese Culture and Society XXIV.  December 2012. Pages 210-232.

Uehara Noboru, “Our Gang Age, 1970.” Short story co-translation with Kyoko Selden, Review of Japanese Culture and Society XXIII. December 2011. Pages 211-224.

Shōji Kaoru, Watch Out, Little Red Riding Hood!. Novel excerpt co-translation with Kyoko Selden, Review of Japanese Culture and Society XXIII. December 2011. Pages 224-230.

Kawabata Yasunari, The Corpse Introducer (Shitai shōkainin). Novella included in Tokyo in Transit: Japanese Culture on the Rails and Road, Stanford University Press, 2010. Pages 225-266.

Medoruma Shun, The Wind Sound (Fūon). Novella co-translation with Kyoko Selden, Review of Japanese Culture and Society XXI. Winter 2009. Pages 137-172.

Ogawa Yōko, “Transit” (Toranjitto), More Stories by Japanese Women Writers, Kyoko Selden, ed., M.E. Sharpe, 2011. Pages 117-138. Also published in Review of Japanese Culture and Society XV and XVI, December 2003 and December 2004.

Saegusa Kazuko, “The Cherry Blossom Train” (Sakura densha). Short story co-translation with Kyoko Selden, More Stories by Japanese Women Writers, Kyoko Selden, ed., M.E. Sharpe, 2011. Pages 86-95. Also published in Review of Japanese Culture and Society XVI. December 2004.   

Selected Magazine Articles, Blog Posts and Online Talks – 

“How Cup Noodles Became One of the Biggest Transpacific Business Success Stories of All Time.” The Conversation. December 8, 2021.

“An EAA Interview with Alisa Freedman,” Education about Asia 26, no. 2. Fall 2021:64-67.

“Japan on American TV.” JapanKyo Podcast. December 2021.

“Japan on American TV.” New Books Network Podcast. December 2021.

 “Jon Wilson in Conversation with Alisa Freedman on Japan on American TV.” Columbia University Press. March 2, 2022.

“How I Gained 100 Grandmothers: Inter-Generational Conversations in Oregon and Tokyo.” CSWS Annual Review 2020. Center for the Study of Women and Society, University of Oregon. Pages 26-27 and 29. 

“Interview with Alisa Freedman, Research Award Recipient.” University of Maryland Libraries, October 13, 2019,

Podcast for Meiji at 150. “Episode 33: Dr. Alisa Freedman.” Interviewed by Tristan Grunow, June 8, 2018.

“The Forgotten Story of Japanese Women Who Studied in the United States, 1949-1966. CSWS Annual Review 2016. Center for the Study of Women and Society, University of Oregon. Pages 12-14. 

“Digital Age Stories in Japan and the United States.” Professor Picks Feature, New Media and Culture Certificate Program Website, February 2015.

“Emoji and Cultural Literacy.” Nerd Nite Tokyo (July 2018).

 “Emoji Can Teach Cultural Literacy.” TEDxOregon. March 2019.

“How Japanese Exchange Students Shaped Japan’s Postwar Development,” TEDxFulbright. February 2018.

Exhibit Curated - “Exchange Students as Cultural Ambassadors: The Forgotten Story of Japanese Women Who Studied in the United States, 1949-1966.” UO Libraries. Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 –

List of additional publications in English and Japanese can be provided. 


Classes for 2022-2023

JPN 410/510: Women in Modern Japan (Fall)

JPN 607: Graduate Seminar: 1950s Japanese Culture and Its Legacies (Fall)

ASIA 111: Great Books of Asia (cotaught course, Fall)

ASIA 399: Japanese Popular Culture in the World (Winter)

JPN 306: Introduction to Japanese Culture, 1600-1950 (Winter)

ASIA 410/510: Topic in Japanese Cultural Studies to Be Announced (Spring)