Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History

Director, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies

Shigehisa Kuriyama is Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History and Interim Chair in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and Faculty Director for the Humanities at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Professor Kuriyama's research probes broad philosophical issues through the lens of specific topics in comparative cultural history (Japan, China, and Europe). His book The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine (Zone, 1999) received the 2001 William H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine, and has been translated into Chinese, Greek, Spanish, and Korean. His articles and edited volumes span studies probing the history of punctuality, perception and representation, the metaphysics of muscularity, the nature of money, and the long, but now forgotten reign of the imagination of excrement.

His current projects includes a study of happiness and presence, which relates this scene of the fish market in early 19th century Edo (1) with Shikitei Samba’s evocation of bathhouse conversations (2), Thomas Edison’s phonograph (3) and Hans Holbein’s portrait of The Ambassadors (4).


Since 2005, Professor Kuriyama has also been active in promoting the creative the use of digital technologies to expand the horizons of teaching and scholarly communication. His most recent publication, Fluid Matter(s) (2020), is an experimental e-book the explores the expressiveness of narratives unbound from the fixed images and words of the printed page.