William Fleming

William Fleming
Ph.D., Harvard University

Assistant Professor

Specialization: Japanese Literature, Comparative Literature, Theater Studies

Office: HSSB 2224


William Fleming specializes in early modern Japanese literature. His primary research interests include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century fiction, popular theater, book history, and literary and cultural exchange with China and the West; his forthcoming monograph examines aspects of the importation, circulation, reading, and adaptation of Chinese fiction in early modern Japan. He completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Harvard University and has spent time as a visiting researcher at Kyoto University, Waseda University, and the National Institute of Japanese Literature in Tokyo. Before joining the faculty at UCSB, he taught in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and the Theater Studies Program at Yale University.


  • Strange Tales from Edo: Rewriting Chinese Fiction in Early Modern Japan (Harvard University Asia Center, 2023).
  • “Rural Kabuki and the Imagination of Japanese Identity in the Late Tokugawa Period,” in Gary Leupp and Tao Demin, eds., The Tokugawa World (Routledge, 2022), 594–610.
  • “Plotting War During the Great Peace: The Uses of Warfare in Historical Fiction of the Late Edo Period,” in Elizabeth Oyler and Katherine Saltzman-Li, eds., Cultural Imprints: War and Memory in the Samurai Age (Cornell University Press, 2022), 114–33.
  • “Strange Tales from Edo: Liaozhai zhiyi in Early Modern Japan,” in Joshua Fogel and Matthew Fraleigh, eds., Sino-Japanese Reflections (De Gruyter, 2022), 87–131.
  • “Images of the Shugenja in Early Modern Japanese Fiction,” in Fabio Rambelli et al., eds., Repositioning Shugendō: New Research Directions on Japanese Mountain Religions (Bloomsbury, 2020), 153–64.
  • “Japanese Students Abroad and the Building of America’s First Japanese Library Collection, 1869–1878,” in Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 139, no. 1 (spring 2019), 115–41.
  • Review Article: Jonah Salz, ed., A History of Japanese Theatre (Cambridge University Press, 2016); Satoko Shimazaki, Edo Kabuki in Transition: From the Worlds of the Samurai to the Vengeful Female Ghost (Columbia University Press, 2016); and Maki Isaka, Onnagata: A Labyrinth of Gendering in Kabuki Theater (University of Washington Press, 2016); in TDR: The Drama Review, vol. 62, no. 2 (summer 2018), 163–67.
  • “Using Problem Sets in Undergraduate Humanities Education” (https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/2017/11/technological-tools-and-methods-for-teaching-premodern-japanese-materials-will-fleming/) (November 2017)
  • Commentaries on rare books from the Gerhard Pulverer Collection, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C. (June 2017):
    URL 1 (commentary on Ihara Saikaku’s Nippon eitaigura [1688]): https://pulverer.si.edu/node/1184/title/1
    URL 2 (commentary on the actor review-book Yakusha tomoginmi [1707]): https://pulverer.si.edu/node/751/title/1
    URL 3 (commentary on Gakutei Harunobu’s Bankoku kidan bukuro [1861]): https://pulverer.si.edu/node/763/title/1
  • “Suwaraya Mohei no Goshoseki mokuroku to Yēru daigaku Nihon shoseki korekushon seiritsu no hiwa” [Suwaraya Mohei’s Catalog Goshoseki mokuroku and the Forgotten Story Behind Yale University’s Japanese Library Collection], in Tōkyō daigaku shiryō hensanjo, ed., Yēru daigaku shozō Nihon kanren shiryō: mokuroku to kenkyū (Bensei shuppan, 2016), 15–28. In Japanese.
  • “Restaging the Forty-Seven Rōnin: Performance and Print in Late Eighteenth-Century Japan,” in Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol. 48, no. 4 (summer 2015), 391–415.
  • Samurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace (Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 2015). Co-authored with Fabian Drixler and Robert George Wheeler.
  • Review of G. G. Rowley, An Imperial Concubine’s Tale: Scandal, Shipwreck, and Salvation in Seventeenth-Century Japan (Columbia University Press, 2012), in Japan Forum, vol. 26, no. 3 (2014), 406–408.
  • Review of Lucie Folan, ed., Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen’s Kabuki Prints (National Gallery of Australia, 2012), in Asian Theatre Journal, vol. 31, no. 1 (spring 2014), 343–45.
  • “Strange Tales from Edo: Liaozhai zhiyi in Early Modern Japan,” in Sino-Japanese Studies, vol. 20 (2013), 75–115.
  • “The Tao of Kibyōshi: Santō Kyōden’s Zhuang-zi: The Licensed Edition,” in The International Journal of Comic Art, vol. 9, no. 1 (spring 2007), 79–118.