Junko Yamazaki

Assistant Professor of Japanese Media Studies
233 Frist Campus Center
Office Hours
Thursday: 2:30 pm-4:30 pm
  • Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies & East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Chicago
  • M.A. in Humanities, designated emphasis in Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago
  • B.A. in Film Studies & Cognitive Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara

Junko Yamazaki’s research is broadly centered on film, media aesthetics and practices of technological and cultural mediation, especially in regard to the questions of the history and politics of sensory life. She has explored these questions by primarily examining 1950s and 1960s Japanese film aesthetics. She is particularly interested in the significance of film spectatorship in postwar Japan, which emerged as a transformative force for social change, propelled by the thorny question of reckoning with the legacies of the past in the present. Her research interests also inform her teaching and pedagogy which are attuned to the intersections between media objects and the students’ own experiences. She has also studied and written on postwar film music and literary debates in the early cold war context. 

Her current book project investigates postwar revival of jidaigeki, a category of film that emerged in the early 1920s and that gradually came to refer to period films set prior to Japan’s Meiji Restoration of 1868. Jidaigeki’s return stirred polemics and was contested by different actors. Both the US Occupation government and progressive Japanese critics regarded these films as “feudal remnants” which constitute a threat to the construction of postwar Japan as a democratic society. Taking the contested return as a starting point, the book reveals jidaigeki’s centrality in postwar debates on aesthetics and politics, as filmmakers, critics, and cultural policy makers of different backgrounds and ideological orientations turned to jidaigeki—both as film and discourse—to interrogate their historical present and engage their audiences in innovative ways. By examining intellectual debates, closely analyzing jidaigeki films, and mapping the attachments of collectives which formed around jidaigeki, this project develops a method to apprehend cinema’s powers to represent the world and intervene in it as it fashions subjects and shapes sensibilities. 

She is a co-founder of the multi-institutional, and interdisciplinary working group “Gender and Criticism Workshop: Japan in the Trans-Pacific World” (2019-).

Prior to joining Princeton, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA (2017-2023). She received her Ph.D. in the joint-degree program in the departments of Cinema & Media Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 2016, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies (2016-2017).

Selected Publications

2023  “Afterlife of Continental Romance: Musical Moments in Ichikawa Kon’s Passion without End (1949) and Fragrance of the Night (1951).” In The Sight of Sound: When Music Takes over in Film eds. Phil Powrie, Claus Tieber, and Anna K. Windisch. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

2022 “Calico-World in Rainbow Colors: 1950s Toei Jidaigeki.” In A Companion to Japanese Cinema. ed. David Desser. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

2019 「思想の慣用語法としての映画——鶴見俊輔の自伝的映画批評」『転形期の メディオロジー』山本直樹、鳥羽耕史編 (東京:森話社、2019)

2018 “Embedded Film, Embodied Reception: Tsurumi Shunsuke’s Autobiographical Film Criticism,” Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema 10.2 (fall 2018).