• PhD, Harvard University, 1988

Research Interests

  • Classical Japanese fiction and memoir
  • Gender in Premodern Japanese culture
  • Eco-criticism and the literature of place

Courses Recently Taught

  • EALC J593 Practicum in Translation of Japanese Literature
  • EALC J461 Classical Japanese Language (bungo)
  • EALC E321 Traditional Japanese Literature (intensive writing)
  • EALC E201 Unreal Dwellings: Houses, Huts, & Palaces in Japanese Culture
  • EALC E300 Sex, Romance, and Story-Telling in the Tale of Genji

Awards and Distinctions

  • Robert F. and Margaret S. Goheen Fellow at the National Humanities Center, 2016-2017
  • Trustees Teaching Award 2014, 2009, 2007, 2001
  • William F. Sibley Memorial Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature 2014
  • Japan Foundation Fellowship
  • Social Science Research Council Japan Advanced Research Grant (twice)
  • Fulbright Fellowship (twice)

Publication Highlights

  • “3/11: Temporary Shelter.” Translation and introduction to Tanaka Takuya, “3/11 Rinji hinanjo.” Co-translated with Yasuko Watt.
  • Yoru no nezame and the Fictional Limits of Late-Heian Aristocratic Motherhood.” In Rethinking Gender in the Post-Gender Era.  Ed. Paul Gordon Schalow and Janet A. Walker.
  • "Unruly Tales from a Dutiful Daughter." In The Father/Daughter Plot: Japanese Literary Women and the Law of the Father. Eds. Rebecca L. Copeland and Esperanza Ramirez Christensen. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001, pp. 89-114.

Edith Sarra’s first book, on Heian women’s self-writings, Fictions of Femininity: Literary Inventions of Gender in Japanese Court Women’s Memoirs (Stanford University Press, 1999), was a winner of the Choice “Outstanding Academic Book” award for 2000. Her current book project, Unreal Houses: Character, Gender, and Genealogy in The Tale of Genji, analyzes the literary figure of the “house”—in both its architectural and genealogical senses—as a matrix for the Genji narrative’s creative re-envisioning of the problems of polygynous marriage and its fictional representations. In addition to her research on Heian court fiction and memoir literature, Sarra’s interest in the theory and practice of literary translation has recently taken her into the study of contemporary Japanese poetry. Her co-authored translation of Tanaka Takuya’s tanka sequence on the Great East Japan earthquake of 2011, “3.11: Temporary Shelter,” won the 2014 William F. Sibley Memorial Prize for the translation of Japanese literature. Together with her co-translator Yasuko Ito Watt, she is currently completing a volume-length translation of Tanaka’s poetry on the 3/11 triple disasters and the 1999 nuclear accident at Tôkaimura.