Atsuko Sakaki

In Person: Tuesdays (from January 16 to April 2, except for February 20): 2:00–4:00 pm; RL 14219, Robarts Library 14th floor, 130 St George Street



Centre for Comparative Literature

Areas of Interest

  • Japanese literature
  • Narrative theories
  • Image and text
  • Photography and narrative
  • Urban space and transportation
  • Sports as practices, events, and spectacles
  • Subject-object dynamics
  • Corporeality
  • Materiality
  • Space-time
  • Trajectories
  • Transmediation


Atsuko Sakaki is the author of four English language monographs—Recontextualizing Texts: Narrative Performance in Modern Japanese Fiction (Harvard, 1999), Obsessions with the Sino-Japanese Polarity in Japanese Literature (Hawai’i, 2006), The Rhetoric of Photography in Modern Japanese Literature: Materiality of the Visual Register as Narrated by Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, Abe Kōbō, Horie Toshiyuki and Kanai Mieko (Brill, 2015), and Train Travel as Embodied Space-Time in Narrative Theory (Palgrave MacMillan, 2023)—and one Japanese language monograph (1996), many peer reviewed and solicited articles and book chapters in both Japanese and English, published in Canada, US, UK, continental Europe, and Asia.

She is a three-time recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grants. Her most recent SSHRC project, "Sports Narrated, Sporting Narratology" (2016–2023) has also received the University of Toronto Excellence Awards (2017 and 2019), and its interim research results have been disseminated at international refereed conferences such as American Comparative Literature Association (2021), European Association for Japanese Studies (2021) and the Association for Literary Urban Studies (2021), with an outcome in an anticipated book, “On Ineptitude.”

Her former SSHRC project, "Pho-tographic Narratives of Modern Japan," which culminated in one single authored book (2015) and an edited volume (2012) continues to evolve in various publications including "Surfaces for Practices in Kanai Mieko's When Treading on Soft Earth,: Translating Sensation from Screen to Novel," Comparative Literature Studies 54, no. 3 (August 2017). Her earliest SSHRC project, "Corporeality and Spatiality in Modern Japanese Fiction," has built a foundation for her lasting interest in related topics, for which she earned a Special Project Professorship in the Department of Comparative Literature and Culture at the University of Tokyo (2016), and published several articles, includ-ing "M for Mobilities, M for Memory: The Métro, Motorsports, Mass Market and Media, and Migrant Workers in Paris in Horie Toshiyuki's 'M'," Mobility Humanities (July 2022).

Another book-length project, "Writing to, on, and for the Likeminded" that has yielded to date two journal articles, "Shapes of Friendship: Commemorative Narratives of and around Horie Toshiyuki" in Journal of Japanese Studies (February 2022) and "Robert Frank to and from Japan," in Revue internationale de Photolittérature (March 2022). She guest-edited the special issue of the journal Literature entitled "Things, Space, and Sensation in, around, and through Modern Japanese Literature in Print (circa 1910–1990)" in 2023. She is on the editorial board of Trans Asia Photography, The Journal of Japanese Studies, Il Giappone Studi e Ricerche, and Japan Forum.

Before she joined the faculty of the University of Toronto (the Department of East Asian Studies) in 2000 and the core faculty at the Centre for Comparative Literature in 2011, she taught at Harvard University (1993–2000) and the University of British Columbia (1992–1993). Her former students and advisees include tenured faculty members at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Bryn Mawr College, Nagoya University, the University of Cincinnati, Washington University St. Louis, Yonsei University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Edinburgh, Kyung Hee College, Toyo University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the past six years, she has supervised four PhD dissertations and one MA thesis, and advised five more PhD dissertations, to successful degree completion.


PhD, Asian Studies, University of British Columbia (1992)
MA, Comparative Literature and Culture, University of Tokyo (1988)
BA, British Area Studies, University of Tokyo (1986)