Joseph Sorensen


Position Title
Associate Professor of Japanese
Undergraduate Faculty Advisor for Japanese

316 Sproul Hall
Office Hours
WQ 24: Tue / Wed 12:10-1:00pm and by appointment
Zoom meetings also available by appointment


  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (2005)

First-Generation Initiative:


  • Classical and medieval poetry and drama
  • Text-image relationships in pre-modern Japan
  • Geography, place-names, and travel literature
  • Pre-modern aesthetics and performance theory
  • Japanese art, architecture, and art history
  • Modern Japanese literature and film


  • JPN 1s/17s/117s - Quarter Abroad Program in Kyoto, Japan (Spring)
  • JPN 10 - Masterworks of Japanese Literature
  • JPN 102 - Japanese Literature in Translation: The Middle Period
  • JPN 106 - Japanese Culture Through Film
  • JPN 131 - Readings in Modern Japanese Literature: 1920-1945
  • JPN 134 - Readings in the Humanities: Traditional Culture
  • JPN 152 - Traditional Japanese Drama
  • JPN 156 - Japanese Literature on Film


  • Optical Allusions:  Screen, Paintings, and Poetry in Classical Japan (ca. 800-1200).  Lieden:  Brill Japan Studies Library, 2012.  293pp.
  • “Canons of Courtly Taste,” co-authored with Robert Borgen, in Karl Friday, ed., Japan Emerging:  Premodern History to 1850 (Boulder, CO:  Westview Press, 2012), pp. 146-156.
  • “The Politics of Screen Poetry:  Michinaga, Sanesuke, and the Court Entrance of Shôshi.” Journal of Japanese Studies 38: 1 (Winter 2012), pp. 85-107.
  • “Poetic Sequence as Personal Salvation: Saigyô’s Poems ‘Upon Seeing Pictures of Hell’,” Japanese Language and Literature 46: 1 (April 2012), pp. 1-55.
  • “Keiken to ekufurashisu:  Bungaku sôsaku shiron,” in Haruo Shirane, ed., Ekkyô suru Nihon bungaku kenkyû—Kanon keisei, jendaa, media (Tokyo: Benseisha, 2009), pp. 109-112.
  • “Experience and Ekphrasis:  A Tentative Thesis on Literary Production,” in Haruo Shirane, ed., New Horizons in Japanese Literary Studies: Canon Formation, Gender, and Media (Tokyo: Benseisha, 2009), pp. 98-102.
  • Haikai Poet Yosa Buson and the Bashô Revival by Cheryl Crowley.  Japanese Language and Literature 42: 1 (2007) , pp. 305-321.
  • "Poetic Landscapes and Landscape Poetry in Heian Japan," Proceedings of Association of Japanese Literary Studies (Purdue: Indiana University Press, 2005), pp. 87-98.


*The relationship between narrative fiction and the composition of court poetry in the Heian and Kamakura periods.
*Poetic place-names and travel literature.


  • 2013 Undergraduate Instructional Improvement Grant, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, U.C. Davis
  • 2012 Research Travel Grant, Committee on Research, U.C. Davis
  • 2010 Excellence in Education Award, ASUCD
  • 2009 Small Grant in Aid of Reseach, U.C. Davis
  • 2008 Faculty Development Award, U.C. Davis
  • 2007 Undergraduate Instructional Improvement Grant, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, U.C. Davis
  • 2004 Dean's Fund for Excellence, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • 2003 Writing Grant, Center for Japanese Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  • 2002 Phi Beta Kappa Award for Graduate Studies
  • 2000 Japan Foundation Research Fellowship
  • 1999 Academic Senate Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor, University of California, Berkeley