Melissa Van Wyk

Melissa Van Wyk
Assistant Professor in Japanese Literature
Wb 301I

Research Interests: Kabuki, early modern theater and performance, misemono spectacle shows, print and visual culture, disability studies, performance studies, and intersections between literature, theater, science, technology and medicine.

My research is focused primarily on kabuki theater and spectacle shows (misemono) in early modern Japan, with particular attention to how the spectacular elements of kabuki—acrobatics, extraordinary bodies, mechanical devices, and so on—not only call into question existing discourses about kabuki dramaturgy but also reveal the theatrical nature of public discourses of knowledge, medicine, and wonder in early modern Japan. I am currently adapting my dissertation, “Restaging the Spectacular: Misemono and Kabuki Theater 1700–1900,” into a book manuscript.

My second project on “true crime” in early modern Japan examines how elements like scandal, sensation, documentary, and fictionality manifest in both drama and print, arguing that the theater, in particular, served as a driving force behind the circulation of sensationalized and sympathetic figures of scandal and crime. The project will incorporate the consequences of notoriety and rumor in love suicide plays by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, the circulation of news in kawaraban broadsides, the overnight adaptions of news events into theater, and depictions of violence and crime in print and on stage. I am additionally pursuing projects on the translation and performance of Dutch-language plays in Dejima in 1820 and on the cultural impact and career of onnagata Nakamura Utaemon VI.