Wiebke Denecke (魏樸和) was trained in Sinology, Japanology, Korean studies, philosophy, and medicine in her native Germany, in Hungary, Norway, Dalian, Taipei, Tokyo, and Seoul. She received her BA and MA from the University of Göttingen and her PhD from Harvard University.
Her research and teaching encompass classical literature and thought of China, Japan, and Korea, comparative studies of East Asia and the premodern world, world literature, and the politics of cultural heritage and memory.
Before coming to MIT Denecke taught at Barnard College/Columbia University and at Boston University. She was a member of the Society of Fellows at Columbia University; a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; a visiting professor at Dōshisha University (Kyoto); and a distinguished foreign visiting professor at Korea University (Seoul). Most recently she received a “New Directions” Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Denecke has received fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the ACLS, German Merit Scholarship Foundation, the DAAD, the Japan Foundation, and the Korea Foundation.
Denecke is currently working on projects that explore the relation of early Japanese literary culture to China and Korea, and that develop methodologies for the emerging field of comparative studies of East Asia’s Sinographic Sphere, on translations of Sino-Korean and Sino-Japanese poetry, and on visions for the global transformation of the humanities.
Classical literature and thought of China, Japan, and Korea, comparative studies of East Asia and the premodern world, world literature, and the politics of cultural heritage and memory.
Denecke is interested in the mutually productive comparative exploration of premodern thought traditions of philosophy, persuasion, and rhetoric; poetry and poetics; court cultures; the development of literary traditions in multiliterate environments; literary historiography; poetry, cross-cultural encounters, and diplomacy; the history of knowledge formation and knowledge cultures; and the creative recapturing of East Asian traditions in the global present.
Books and Edited Volumes
日本「文」学史 Nihon “bun”gakushi [A New History of Japanese “Letterature”], edited with Kōno Kimiko, Shinkawa Tokio, Jinno Hidenori.
Volume Three: : 「文」から「文学」へ――東アジアの文学を見直す “Bun” kara “bungaku” e: Higashi Ajia no bungaku o minaosu [The Path from “Letters” to “Literature”: A Comparative History of East Asian Literatures] (Tokyo: Benseisha, 2019)
The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature, under the general editorship of Ken Seigneurie. 6 vols. Editor of volume 1 (with Ilaria Ramelli) (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2019)
The Norton Anthology of World Literature, fourth edition, shorter edition, under the general editorship of Martin Puchner. 2 vols. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2018)
The Norton Anthology of World Literature, fourth edition, under the general editorship of Martin Puchner. 6 vols. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2018)
The Oxford Handbook of Classical Chinese Literature (1000 BCE – 900 CE), edited with Wai-yee Li and Xiaofei Tian. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017) [CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title 2018]
日本「文」学史 Nihon “bun”gakushi [A New History of Japanese “Letterature”], edited with Kōno Kimiko, Shinkawa Tokio, Jinno Hidenori, Taniguchi Shinko, and Munakata Kazushige.
Volume Two: : 「文」と人びと――継承と断絶“Bun” to hitobito: keishō to danzetsu [“Letterature” and Its People: Continuities and Ruptures] (Tokyo: Benseisha, 2017)
日本「文」学史 Nihon “bun”gakushi [A New History of Japanese “Letterature”], edited with Kōno Kimiko, Shinkawa Tokio, and Jinno Hidenori (Tokyo: Benseisha, 2015-) (in Japanese)
Volume One: 「文」の環境——「文学」以前 “Bun” no kankyō: “bungaku” izen [The World of “Letters”: The Age Before “Literature”] (Tokyo: Benseisha, 2015)
Classical World Literatures: Sino-Japanese and Greco-Roman Comparisons (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014)
The Norton Anthology of Western Literature, ninth edition, under the general editorship of Martin Puchner. 2 vols. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2014)
日本における文とブンガク(bungaku)Nihon ni okeru bun to bungaku [The Concept of “Letters” and “Literature” in Japan]. Ajia yūgaku March 2013. With Kōno Kimiko (Tokyo: Benseisha, 2013) (in Japanese)
The Norton Anthology of World Literature, third, edition, shorter edition, under the general editorship of Martin Puchner. 2 vols. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012)
The Norton Anthology of World Literature, third edition, under the general editorship of Martin Puchner. 6 vols. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012)
The Dynamics of Masters Literature: Early Chinese Thought from Confucius to Han Feizi. Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series no. 74 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011)
2017 Sim Kyung-Ho and Peter Kornicki. “Sino-Korean Literature.” In Wiebke Denecke, Wai-yee Li, and Xiaofei Tian (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Classical Chinese Literature (1000 BCE – 900 CE) (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 533-550. (Translations from Korean by Wiebke Denecke and Johann Noh)
2015 “Preface to Sino-Japanese Poems on The Tale of the Shining Genji.” In Thomas Harper and Haruo Shirane (eds.) Reading the Tale of Genji: The First Millennium (New York: Columbia University Press), 171-176.
2012 Selected poetry by Sugawara no Michizane. In The Norton Anthology of World Literature, third edition, Volume B (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012), 1100-1104.
“Pushing for Poetry, Again.” In Korean Literature Now vol. 48.
“Suffering Everlasting Sorrow in Chang’an’s ‘Everlasting Tranquility’: The Poetics of Japanese Missions to the Tang Court”. East Asian Journal of Sinology 東亞漢學硏究 vol. 14: 253-390 (in English and Korean)
“What Does a Classic Do? Tapping the Powers of a Comparative Phenomenology of the Classic/al.” Feature Article for Literary research/ Recherche littéraire, Fall 2019.
“Tongasia hanja munhwagwŏn esŏ kongyuhanŭn kŭlssŭgi ŭi chŏnt’ong.” In Hanmunhakbo/The Journal of Literature in Classical Chinese 40 (2019.6) (translated by Kim, YongTae; Kim, JongHoo; Choi, JooYoung; Chun, HyunJung; Park, HyeonJin) [Korean translation of 2017 book chapter from Oxford Handbook of Classical Chinese Literature: “Shared Literary Heritage in the East Asian Sinographic Sphere”]: 213-51.
세계사적 관점에서 생각하는 한자문화권 비교 연구의 미래 – 고대 시가의 발전 양상을 중심으로 [Rethinking the Future of Sinographic Sphere Studies from a World Historical Perspective: A Comparative Case Study of the Development of Early Poetry]. In Hanmunhakbo/The Journal of Literature in Classical Chinese 38 (2018.6): 417-435. (in Korean)
日本‘文’学史 A New History of Japanese Letterature”与“域外汉学 “Riben ‘wen’xueshi” A New History of Japanese Letterature yu Yuwai Hanxue [A New History of Japanese Letterature and Sinographic Sphere Studies], with Kōno Kimiko, translated by Sun Shiwei. In Refeng Xueshu 7 (2017.12): 150-156. (in Chinese)
Roundtable Interview. Special Issue: “The Global Development of Japanese Studies.” [日本学のグローバル展開]. In Mita hyōron October 2017: 10-25.
“The New Avant-garde: Classical Literature Translators.” In Korean Literature Now, vol. 34: 13-15.
日本「文」学史の試み “Nihon ‘bun’gakushi no kokoromi” [Experimenting with A New History of Japanese “Letterature”], with Kōno Kimiko. In Report Kasama, no. 61. Risō no “Nihon bungakushi”: 39-42. (in Japanese)
自著を語る: 日本「文」学史 “Jicho o kataru. Nihon ‘bun’gaku shi” [Talking about my new book: A New History of Japanese “Letterature”], with Kōno Kimiko. In Shomotsugaku/Bibliology 6: 100-103. (in Japanese)
「国風」の味わい：嵯峨朝の文学を唐の詩集から照らす “Kokufū no ajiwai: Sagachō no bungaku o Tō no shishū kara terasu” [A Taste of “Native Style”: Illuminating Saga Period Literature through Tang Poetry Anthologies]. In Ajia yūgaku 188. Kitayama Mitsumasa, Shinma Kazuyoshi, Takigawa Kōji, Miki Masahiro, and Yamamoto Tokurō (eds.) Nihon kodai no “kan” to “wa”: Sagachō no bungaku kara kangaeru (Tokyo: Benseisha): 6-23. (in Japanese)
“The Power of Syntopism: Chinese Poetic Place Names on the Map of Early Japanese Poetry.” In Asia Major 26.2: 33-57.
「世界文学」の新しいパラダイムの展開と展望 “Sekai bungaku no atarashii paradaimu no tenkai to tenbō” [Development and Prospects of the New World Literature Paradigm]. In Bungaku (Iwanami shoten) (July/August 2012): 174-201. (in Japanese)
“Prefaces as Sino-Japanese Interfaces: The Past, Present, and Future of the Mana Preface to the Kokinwakashū.” In Nihon kanbungaku kenkyū 3 (2008): 1-29.
追溯日本文學的起點——以 《懷風藻》和《古今和歌集》爲例 “Zhuisu Riben wenxue de qidian—yi Huaifengzao he Gujinhegeji wei li” [Tracing the Beginning of Japanese Literature: the Example of the Kaifūsō and the Kokinwakashū]. In Riben xuexi yu yanjiu 132 (2007): 32-36. (in Chinese)
Reprinted in Liu Huairong (ed.) Riben hanshi yanjiu lunwenxuan (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2017)
“‘Topic Poetry is All Ours’—Poetic Composition on Chinese Lines in Early Heian Japan.” In Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 67, no. 1 (2007): 1-49.
“Writing History in the Face of the Other: Early Japanese Anthologies and the Beginnings of Literature.” In Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 76 (2004 issue, 2006): 71-114.
“Disciplines in Translation: From Chinese Philosophy to Chinese What?” In special issue of Culture, Theory, Critique 47, no. 1 (2006): 23-38.
“Chinese Antiquity and Court Spectacle in Early Kanshi.” In Journal of Japanese Studies 30, no.1 (2004): 97-122.
“The Epistemology of Space in The Tale of Genji.” In James McMullen (ed.) Oxford Studies in Philosophy and Literature: The Tale of Genji (New York: Oxford University Press)
“The Masters.” In Wiebke Denecke, Wai-yee Li, and Xiaofei Tian (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Classical Chinese Literature (1000 BCE – 900 CE), 201-218.
“Shared Literary Heritage in the East Asian Sinographic Sphere.” (with contributions by Nam Nguyen). In Wiebke Denecke, Wai-yee Li, and Xiaofei Tian (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Classical Chinese Literature (1000 BCE – 900 CE), 510-532.
“Early Sino-Japanese Literature.” In Wiebke Denecke, Wai-yee Li, and Xiaofei Tian (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Classical Chinese Literature (1000 BCE – 900 CE), 551-567.
「文」の概念史を通して日本「文」学史をひらく “‘Bun’” no gainenshi o tōshite Nihon ‘bun’ gakushi o hiraku” [Conceiving a History of Japanese “Letterature” through a Conceptual History of “Letters”]. In op. cit.,1-40. (in Japanese)
“Anthologization and Sino-Japanese Literature: Kaifūsō and the Three Imperial Anthologies.” In Haruo Shirane, Tomi Suzuki (eds.), and David Lurie (contributor) Cambridge History of Japanese Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 86-91.
“Literary Essence of Our Court: Honchō Monzui.” In Haruo Shirane, Tomi Suzuki (eds.) and David Lurie (contributor). Cambridge History of Japanese Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 188-192.
“Worlds Without Translation: Premodern East Asia and the Power of Character Scripts.” In Sandra Berman and Catherine Porter (eds.) Companion to Translation Studies (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell), 204-16.
嵯峨朝における「文章経国」の再論 “Sagachō ni okeru ‘Bunshō Keikoku’ no sairon” [A Fresh Look at the Notion of “Literature for the Governance of the State” During the Era of Emperor Saga]. In Wiebke Denecke and Kōno Kimiko (eds.) Nihon ni okeru bun to bungaku. Ajia yūgaku 162 (Tokyo: Benseisha, 2013), 93-106. (in Japanese)
“Japan’s Vernacular and Sino-Japanese Poetry: a Bird’s Eye View from Rome.” In Haruo Shirane et al. (eds.) Sekai no naka no waka bungaku/Waka Literature in the World (Tokyo: Benseisha), 19-32 and 203-215. (in Japanese and English; translated by Kinugasa Masaaki)
詩的两面與歌的一面―與遣唐使有關的詩歌世界 “Shi de liangmian yu ge de yimian—yu QianTangshi youguan de shige shijie” [Double-faced Sino-Japanese Poems, Single-faced Japanese Songs: The World of the Poetry related to Japan’s Tang Embassies]. In Wang Yong (ed.) Dongya shiyu yu qian SuiTang shi (Beijing: Guangming ribao chubanshe, 2010), 27-37. (in Chinese, translated by Wu Saihua from author’s unpublished Japanese article)
兩面神即來則安:面對他者編纂文學史 “Liangmian shen ji lai ze an: miandui tazhe bianzuan wenxueshi” [Janus Came And Never Left: Writing Literary History in the Face of the Other]. In David Damrosch, Chen Yongguo, and Yin Xing (eds.) Xin fangxiang. Bijiao wenxue yu shijie wenxue duben (Beijing: Beijing University Press, 2010), 128-36. (translated by Yin Xing and Chen Yongguo);[Chinese translation of 2006 book chapter “Janus Came and Never Left: Writing Literary History in the Face of the Other”]
正典化させるパロディー―初期『源氏物語』受容としての『賦光源氏物語詩』について “Seitenkasaseru Parodi—shoki Genji monogatari juyō toshite no Fu Hikaru Genji monogatari shi ni tsuite” [Canonizing Parody: On the Sino-Japanese Poems on the Tale of Shining Genji as Early Genji reception]. In Ii Haruki and Haruo Shirane (eds.) Kōza Genji monogatari kenkyū, vol. 11 “Kaigai ni okeru Genji monogatari” (Tokyo: Ôfūsha, 2008), 164-190. (in Japanese, translated by Mariko Naitō)
句題詩の展開―「漢‐詩」から「和‐詩」へ “Kudaishi no tenkai: “kan-shi” kara “wa-shi” e” [The Development of Topic Poetry: From ‘Sino-Japanese Poetry’ to ‘Japanese Sino-Japanese Poetry’]. In Satō Michio (ed.) Kudaishi kenkyū (Tokyo: Keiō University Press, 2007), 47-89. (in Japanese)
“Janus Came and Never Left: Writing Literary History in the Face of the Other. Some Reflections on the Intercultural Axes of China-Japan and Greece-Rome.” In Gunilla Lindberg-Wada (ed.) Studying Transcultural Literary History (New York: de Gruyter, 2006), 278-288.
“Bilingual Landscapes: Divided Pleasures at Yoshino Palace in Early Japanese and Sino-Japanese Poetry.” In Takami Matsuda and Michio Satō (eds.) Minds of the Past. Representations of Mentality in Literary and Historical Documents of Japan and Europe (Tokyo: Keiō University Press, 2005), 165-89.
Tod und Tode: Gedanken zum rituellen Umgang mit Tod im Alten China.“ In Jan Assmann and Rolf Trauzettel (eds.) Tod, Jenseits und Identität. Perspektiven einer kulturwissenschaftlichen Thanatologie (Freiburg/München: Verlag Karl Alber, 2002), 482-503.
Denecke’s first book The Dynamics of Masters Literature: Early Chinese Thought from Confucius to Han Feizi (Harvard University Press, Asia Center, 2011) argues that the desire for a Chinese equivalent for Western philosophy has warped our understanding of early Chinese thought, and shows how texts like the Confucian Analects or the Laozi can instead be read as part of a distinctive Chinese genre of the “Masters” or “Masters Literature.” Her second book, Classical World Literatures: Sino-Japanese and Greco-Roman Comparisons (Oxford University Press, 2014), examines the development of younger literatures vis-à-vis older, authoritative “reference cultures” by comparing the way early Japanese authors wrote their texts through and against Chinese literary precedents to the way Latin authors appropriated Greek literary precedents. It calls for “deep comparisons” of premodern cultures from a social and functional perspective.
Denecke is broadly interested in the formation of knowledge and the history of knowledge cultures around the world. She has focused in particular on the role of “literature” and the literary within humanistic inquiry. Her collaborative publications on this topic focus on the case of East Asia (The Concept of “Letters” and “Literature” in Japan (日本における文とブンガク Nihon ni okeru bun to bungaku, with Kōno Kimiko; Tokyo: Benseisha, 2013; and the three-volume revisionary literary history A New History of Japanese “Letterature” 日本「文」学史 Nihon “bun”gakushi, with Kōno Kimiko et al. Benseisha, 2015-19). They aim to rediscover the world of premodern “Letters” (文) as a realm of cultural commonalities between China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, in this current moment, when national ideologies and the aftermath of 20thcentury atrocities overshadow the distinctive shared East Asian cultural heritage. The third volume, From “Letters” to “Literature”: Re-configuring East Asian Literatures (2019), is the first comparative literary history of China, Japan, and Korea from the early modern period to our moment.
Denecke is one of the editors of The Norton Anthology of World Literature and The Norton Anthology of Western Literature (under the general editorship of Martin Puchner). With Satoru Hashimoto and Zhang Longxi she is curating the book series East Asian Comparative Literature and Culture (Leiden: Brill). In 2019 she became inaugural General Editor of the Hsu-Tang Library of Classical Chinese Literature (Oxford University Press).