Melek Su Ortabasi

Curriculum Vitae

Mailing address:
Program in World Literature
Simon Fraser University
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC Canada V5A 1S6

Email: mso1(at)


Simon Fraser University

World Literature Program
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

  • Director, September 2015 – present
  • Associate Professor, 2012 – present
  • Assistant Professor, 2008 – 2012

Hamilton College

Department of Comparative Literature

  • Assistant Professor, 2002 – 2008

University of Washington, Seattle

Department of Comparative Literature 

  • Teaching Associate, Fall 2000 - Winter 2001
  • Teaching Assistant, 1994; 1996-1997; 1999-2000    

Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures

  • Teaching Assistant, Summer 2000            

Obirin University, Tokyo

Reconnaissance Japan Program

  • Lecturer, 1995                                           


University of Washington, Seattle
Ph.D., Comparative Literature, 2001.

Dissertation title: “Japanese Cultural History as Literary Landscape: Scholarship, Authorship and Language in Yanagita Kunio’s Native Ethnology”

M.A., Comparative Literature (Japanese and German), 1994.

Stanford Inter-University Center, Yokohama
Certificate, June 1995.

University of California, Berkeley
B.A., Comparative Literature (Japanese and German), 1992.


Simon Fraser University

  • David Lam Centre Research Grant, 2018
  • Emergency Rapid Response Grant, FASS Dean’s Office, 2017
  • FASS Canada 150 Grant, 2016.
  • Small SSHRC Grant, 2014.
  • University Publications Committee Grant, 2012.
  • SSHRC Travel Grant; 2009 and 2012
  • Presidential Research Grant, 2008.

Goethe Universität, Frankfurt

  • Visiting Scholar, June-July 2017

Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo

  • Visiting Researcher, August 2014-June 2015

Internationale Jugendbibliothek, Munich

  • Visiting Researcher, July-August 2014
  • Research Fellowship for 3 months of research, June-August 2016

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich

  • Visiting Scholar, June 2016
  • Erasmus+ EU Grant recipient, June 2016 

The University of Tokyo

  • Visiting Researcher, July 2010

Japan Foundation

  • Research Fellowship for 8 months of research in Japan at The University of Tokyo, 2007.

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

  • Research Fellowship for 6 months of research in Japan at The University of Tokyo, 2006.

Cornell University

  • Wason Library Travel Grant, 2005.

Hamilton College

  • Class of 1966 Career Development Award, 2004.
  • Hewlett Grant for incorporating diversity into the curriculum, 2003.

University of Washington

  • Alvord Fellow in the Humanities, academic year 2001-2002.
  • Society of Scholars at the Simpson Center for the Humanities, academic year 2001-2002.

Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien (DIJ), Tokyo

  • Dissertation research fellowship, April-July 2001.

Monbusho Scholarship

  • For graduate research at Kokugakuin University, Tokyo, October 1997 to March 1999.

Japanese Proficiency Test Level 1

  • High Pass, 1998.

Stanford Inter-University Center

  • Hayase/Moriyama Prize, 1995.


The Undiscovered Country: Text, Translation and Modernity in the Work of Yanagita Kunio
. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014.

To listen to an interview with Dr. Ortabasi about this book, please click here.

To read a review of this book, please click here.

The Modern Murasaki: Women Writers of Meiji Japan. Coedited with Rebecca Copeland. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

Journal articles/book chapters

“Languaging About Language in an Interdiscilpinary Writing-Intensive Course,” with Joel Heng Hartse and Michael Lockett. Across the Disciplines: A Journal of Language Learning and Academic WritingVol. 15 No. 3 (November 2018): 89-102.

“(Re)animating Folklore: Raccoon Dogs, Foxes and other Supernatural Japanese Citizens in Takahata Isao’s Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko.” Marvels and Tales Vol. 27 No. 2 (Fall 2013), pp. 98 – 119.

“Shajitsushugi bungaku to shite yomu Tôno monogatari” (Reading Tôno monogatarias Realist Literature); “Gengo hyôgen kara mita Tôno monogatari” (Linguistic Expression in Tôno monogatariTônogaku Vol. 2 (April 2013), pp. 65 – 69; 80 – 87. (Conference proceedings and transcript of panel discussion)

“Shajitsushugi bungaku to shite yomu Tôno monogatari” (Reading Tôno monogatarias Realist Literature). Trans. Nakai Maki. In Sekai no naka no Yanagita Kunio, ed. Ronald A. Morse and Akasaka Norio. Tokyo: Fujiwara shoten, 2012, pp. 146 –186.

“Reading Tôno monogatari (Tales of Tôno) as Literary Realism,” in Yanagita Kunio and Japanese Folklore Studies in the 21st Century, ed. Ronald A. Morse. Kawaguchi, Japan: Japanime Co., 2012, pp. 81 – 105. Online.

“Brave Dogs and Little Lords: Some Thoughts on Translation, Literary Style, and the Debate on Childhood in Mid-Meiji,” in Translation in Modern Japan, ed. Indra Levy. New York: Routledge, 2011, pp. 186 – 212.

“Narrative Realism and the Modern Storyteller: Rereading Yanagita Kunio’s Tôno monogatari.” Monumenta Nipponica Vol. 64 No. 1 (Spring 2009), pp. 127 – 165.

“Brave Dogs and Little Lords: Some Thoughts on Translation, Literary Style, and the Debate on Childhood in Mid-Meiji.” Review of Japanese Culture and Society Vol. 20 (December 2008), pp. 178 – 205.

“Yanagita Kunio to Nihon no kindaika: Tôno monogatari kara sengo no kyôkasho made.” Yanagita Kunio kenkyû ronshû No. 6 (August 2008), pp. 49 – 57.

“National History as Otaku Fantasy: Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress” in Japanese Visual Culture, ed. Mark MacWilliams. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2008, pp. 274 – 294.

“Surveying Comparative Literature from the Pacific Rim.” Coauthored with Charlotte Eubanks. ADFL Bulletin 38.3/39.1 (Spring/Fall 2007), pp. 34 – 39.

“Indexing the Past: Visual Language and Translatability in Kon Satoshi’s Millennium Actress.” Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 14.4 (2006), pp. 278 – 291.

“Sketching Out the Critical Tradition: Yanagita Kunio and the Reappraisal of Realism” in Japanese Poeticity and Narrativity Revisited: Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies, West Lafayette, 4-5 October 2002, ed. Eiji Sekine. West Lafayette: AJLS, 2003, pp. 184 – 193.

“Fictional Fantasy or Historical Fact? The Search for Japanese Identity in Miyazaki Hayao’s Mononokehime” in A Century of Popular Culture in Japan, ed. Doug Slaymaker. Lampeter, Wales: Edwin Mellen Press, 2000, pp. 199 – 228.


Wang Qing. “A Comparative Study of Religious Thought in the Work of Cai Yuanpei and Inoue Enryô.” International Journal of Inoue Enryô Research 1 (July 2013). Online at

“The Temple of Godai—Introduction and translation of ‘Godai-dô’ by Tazawa Inabune” and “Hiding the Gray—Introduction and translation of ‘Shiragazome’ by Kitada Usurai,” in The Modern Murasaki: Selected Works by Women Writers of Meiji Japan, co-editor Rebecca Copeland (Columbia University Press, 2006): 151-184; 185-214.

“Kano Shiho” (interview of the Japanese avant-garde filmmaker by Scott MacDonald). In A Critical Cinema 5: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. 347 – 357.

Other Publications

“Japanese Literature as World Literature.” Invited blog post for Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, no. 17 of Japan in Translation Blog Series. May 19, 2018.

Review and Analysis of Millennium Actress, dir. Kon Satoshi, in Mazinga Nostalgia: Storia, valori e linguaggi della Goldrake-generation dal 1978 al nuovo secolo, vol. 2. (‘Nostalgia for Mazinger: History, values, and languages of the Grendizer-generation from 1978 to the new century’), 2 vols. By Marco Pellitteri. Latina (Italy): Tunué, 2018, pp. 1219-1223. (Translated into Italian by M. Pellitteri)

Book Review of Timothy J. Van Compernolle, Struggling Upward: Worldly Success and the Japanese Novel. Harvard University Asia Center, 2016, in Japan Forum 29.4 (2017): 1-3.

Book Review of Mayako Murai, From Dog Bridegroom to Wolf Girl: Contemporary Japanese Fairy-Tale Adaptations in Conversation with the West (Wayne State University Press, 2015); and Fumihiko Kobayashi, Japanese Animal-Wife Tales: Narrating Gender Reality in Japanese Folktale Tradition (Peter Lang, 2015), in Monumenta Nipponica 71.2 (2016, forthcoming).

“Kaisetsu. Kokkyo o kakeru shôjo” in Tenzan no miko Sonin 5. Tokyo: Kôdansha, 2016, pp. 287-292.

Interview of Stephen Snyder, translator of Confessions by Minato Kanae, for SCBWI Japan Translation Group (March 2015),

Book Review of Heather Snell and Lorna Hutchinson, eds., Children and Cultural Memory in Texts of Childhood, Routledge, 2014; in Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature 53.1 (2015), pp. 96-97.

Book Review of Anthony S. Rausch, Japan’s Local Newspapers: Chihôshi and Revitalization Journalism, Routledge, 2012; in electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies 14.3 (December 2014),

Book Review of Shelley Tanaka, Nobody Knows, Groundwood Books, 2012; inBookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature 52.1 (January 2014), p. 62.

“Sekai bungaku no naka no Yanagita Kunio: Tôno monogatari wo chûshin ni” inYanagita Kunio zenshû vol. 34 geppô. Tokyo: Chikuma shobô, 2013, pp. 3 –5.

“Bringing Students (in)to the World: Asia in the World Literature Classroom.”Education About Asia 18.1 (Spring 2013), pp. 4 – 7.

Book Review of Michiko Suzuki, Becoming Modern Women, Stanford University Press, 2009; in Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific 28 (February/March 2012). Online.

“Teaching Modern Japanese History with Animation: Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress.” Education About Asia 12.1 (Spring 2007), pp. 62 – 65.

“The I-Novel” in Encyclopedia of Life Writing, ed. Margaretta Jolly. 2 vols. London: Fitzroy-Dearborn Publishers, 2001. Vol. 1, pp. 453 – 454.


“3,000 Leagues in Search of Cuore: Edmondo de Amicis Travels to Japan.” CJR Lunchtime Lecture Series at University of British Columbia, November 27, 2018. Abstract.

“Human in Spirit: Popular Visual Culture and the Republic of Supernatural Japanese Citizens.” Symposium on the “Nonhuman in Japanese Culture and Society: Spirits, Animals, Technology” at University of Victoria, September 22, 2018. Abstract. Event Link.  

“Collaboration and the Art of Doing More With Less.” “Teaching World Literature: Debates, Models, Pedagogies” at University of Washington, October 21, 2016.

“Trees, Waves, and Rhizomes Under the Microscope.” “Teaching World Literature: Debates, Models, Pedagogies” at University of Washington, October 21, 2016.

“Randoku no kuse: Meiji Taishô no erîto to kodomo jidai no dokusho keiken.” Tokyo Gakugei University, May 22, 2015. In Japanese.

“Randoku no kuse: Meiji Taishô no erîto to kodomo jidai no dokusho keiken.” The Faculty of International Studies, Meiji Gakuin University, April 8, 2015. In Japanese.

“In Search of Lost Worlds: Meiji and Taishô Period Elites Remember Their Childhood Reading.” Department of Japanese Studies, National University of Singapore, March 23, 2015.

“World Literature in the Nursery, 1870-1930: Fin de siècle Elites and Memories of Childhood Reading.” Stanford University, February 11, 2015.

The Undiscovered Country: Text, Translation and Modernity in the Work of Yanagita Kunio.” East Asian Studies Workshop, Stanford University, February 10, 2015.

“Translation, Transnationalism, and Japanese Children’s Literature, 1870-1930.” Symposium of Japanese Children’s Literature. Colorado College, Colorado Springs, May 31, 2014.

“Traditionally Modern: Folklore Studies, Nation, Japan.” University of Washington, Seattle, April 15, 2014.

“Shajitsushugi bungaku to shite yomu Tôno monogatari” (Reading Tôno monogatarias Realist Literature). Symposium entitled “21-seiki ni okeru Yanagita Kunio.” Tôno City, Japan, August 24, 2012. In Japanese.

“Ten Years post-PhD, or: Thoughts on Surviving (and Thriving) in the Profession.” Keynote speech. UBC Asian Studies Graduate Student Conference. University of British Columbia, May 12, 2012.

“The Curious Cabinet of Kon Satoshi: Phantasm, Feminism, and Fear.” Asian Film Festival at the Kellogg Institute of International Studies. University of Notre Dame, March 26, 2011.  Event website

“Amerika kara yomu Tôno monogatari” (Reading Tales of Tôno from America). Symposium entitled “Aratanaru Yanagita Kunio.” Tokyo Gakugei University, January 29, 2011. In Japanese.

“An Introduction to Anime: The History and Culture of a Transnational Medium.” Invited by the Asian Educational Media Service at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. April 29, 2009. Event website

“Gender in Japanese Anime.” Led faculty seminar for the St. Lawrence University Asian Studies Initiative. November 12, 2004.

“Ethnology and Dialect: Yanagita Kunio and the Authorship of National Language.” Japanese Humanities Lecture Series at the University of Washington. May 23, 2003.


“World Children’s Literature” at ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association) Annual Meeting. Los Angeles, USA, March 29-April 1, 2018. Abstract.

“Tracking the Elusive Historical Child Reader” at IRSCL (International Research Society for Children’s Literature) Congress 2017. York University, Toronto, July 29-August 2, 2017. Abstract.  

“Bringing Young Readers Into the World: The Pedagogical Uses of Literature Around 1900” at ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association) Annual Meeting. Utrecht, Netherlands, July 7-9, 2017. Abstract.

“Nationalist Texts With International Appeal: Or, the Strange Tale of Children’s World Literature at the Extended Fin de Siècle” at Other Europes: Migrations, Translations, Transformations, MLA International Symposia: Translating the Humanities. Düsseldorf, Germany, 25 June 2016. Abstract.

“Edmondo de Amicis Travels East: Cuore in Japanese Translation and Adaptation” at Regional Identities on a Global Scale: Translation, Audiences, Reception, Transnational Perspectives in Italian Studies. University of British Columbia, April 2, 2016. Abstract.

“The Nursery of Meiji Literature: Eisai shinshi (Genius magazine) and Children as Authors” at AAS (Association of Asian Studies) Annual Meeting. Seattle, March 31-April 3, 2016. Abstract.

“Translating the modernizing landscape: Yanagita Kunio and the travelogue” at UBC Japan Seminar. UBC, March 23, 2012.

“Children’s Literature and Translation, or: The World Republic of Childhood” at Scroll to Screen Symposium. UBC, October 3, 2011.

“The Politics of Translation: Iwaya Sazanami’s Tale of the Brave Dog Koganemaru(1891) as an ‘Original’ Work of Children’s Literature” at Modernist Studies Association annual meeting. Victoria, November 11-14, 2010. Abstract

“(Re)Animating Folklore: Raccoon Dogs, Foxes, and other Supernatural Citizens in Takahata Isao’s Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko” at Kinema Club 2010 (an association of scholars of Japanese cinema) annual meeting. Honolulu, July 30 - August 1, 2010. Abstract

“World Literature for Children: The Case of Iwaya Sazanami’s The Brave Dog Kogane-maru (1891)” at ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association) Annual Meeting. New Orleans, April 1-4, 2010. Abstract

 “Thinking like a Patriot, Speaking like an Individual: Yanagita Kunio and Prewar Education” at AAS (Association of Asian Studies) Annual Meeting. Chicago, March 26-29, 2009. Abstract

“Teaching Children to Do Things With Words: Yanagita Kunio and the Postwar Education Debate” at AAS (Association of Asian Studies) Annual Meeting. Atlanta, April 3-6, 2008. Abstract

“Yanagita Kunio to Nihon no kindaika: Tôno monogatari kara sengo no kyôkasho made” at the Yanagita Kunio no kai. Ôtani University (Kyoto), July 28, 2007. In Japanese

“Indexing the Past: Visual Language and Translatability in Kon Satoshi’s Millennium Actress” at Kinema Club Conference VIII. Frankfurt (Germany), April 23, 2007. Abstract

“National History as Otaku Fantasy: Kon Satoshi’s Millennium Actress” at ACAG 2006 (International Conference on Asian Comics, Animation and Gaming). York University (Toronto), May 18-19, 2006. Abstract

“Authentic(ating) Voices of the Folk: Yanagita Kunio’s Criticism of Language Reform” at AAS (Association of Asian Studies) Annual Meeting. Chicago, March 28-31, 2005. Abstract

“Landscape and the Lonely Traveler: Yanagita Kunio and Sugae Masumi” at the Association for Japanese Literary Studies Annual Conference. University of Washington (Seattle), October 22-24, 2004. Abstract

“Yanagita Kunio’s Reflections on Snails and the Role of Dialect in Authoring National Language” at the Modern Languages Association Annual Convention. San Diego, December 27-20, 2003. Abstract

 “Miyazaki Hayao’s Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi: Escaping Japan?” at The New York Conference on Asian Studies (NYCAS) 2002 Annual Meeting. Skidmore College (New York State), October 25-26, 2002. Abstract

“Sketching Out the Critical Tradition: Yanagita Kunio and the Reappraisal of Realism” at the Association for Japanese Literary Studies Annual Conference. Purdue University (Indiana), October 4-5, 2002. Abstract

“Competing Conceptions of Modern Selfhood: Native Ethnologist Yanagita Kunio and the Meiji-Taishô Literary Community” at the DIJ Humanities Study Group. Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien (Tokyo), May 23, 2001. Abstract

“Travel Writing and Reimagining the Native Landscape: Yanagita Kunio’s Kainan shoki” at AAS (Association of Asian Studies) Annual Meeting. Chicago, March 22-25, 2001. Abstract

“Japanese Native Ethnology and Modern Travel Writing: Literary Genre and National Identity” at the Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast (ASPAC) 2000 Annual Meeting. University of Oregon, June 16-18, 2000. Abstract

“Fictional Fantasy or Historical Fact? The Search for Japanese Identity in Miyazaki Hayao's Mononokehime” at Beyond Babel: Common Language, Common Differences, Common Ground. UC San Diego, October 14-16, 1999. Abstract

“Miyazaki Hayao no Mononokehime ni okeru shizenkan” at Nihon Minzoku Gakkai dai 50kai nenkai. Bukkyô University, Kyoto, October 3-5, 1998.


  • Children’s literature and World literature
  • Translation theory and practice
  • Cultural studies and intellectual history of 20th-century Japan
  • Crosscultural influences between European and Japanese literature and critical theory
  • Comparative folklore studies
  • Film and popular culture in contemporary Japan


WL 101W Writing About Literature: Fiction and Cultural Identity
WL 105W World Literature Lab
WL 200 Literary Analysis and Interpretation
WL 201 East/West: Representations of Japan in Popular Culture
WL 301W Advanced Composition: The World Republic of Childhood
WL 330 Special Topic in World Literature: Transnational Youth
WL 404 Literature and Translation

Please click here for course descriptions and outlines


Modern Japanese: excellent reading, writing and speaking abilities
Classical Japanese: very good reading ability
German: excellent reading, writing and speaking abilities
Spanish: good reading, speaking ability
Classical Chinese: fair reading ability


  • Association for Asian Studies (AAS)
  • Modern Language Association (MLA)
  • Association for Japanese Literature Studies (AJLS)
  • American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)
  • International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL)