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Karen Thornber

Victor and William Fung Director
Harvard University Asia Centre

Karen Thornber is Professor of Comparative Literature and of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, where she is also Victor and William Fung Director of the Harvard University Asia Center and Chair of the Harvard Asia Center Council.  Her primary research focuses are the literatures and cultures of East Asia and more recently the Indian Ocean Rim, the environmental humanities and social sciences, and the medical humanities. Her publications include two multiple international award-winning scholarly monographs – Empire of Texts in Motion: Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese Transculturations of Japanese Literature (2009) and Ecoambiguity: Environmental Crises and East Asian Literatures (2012), and she has recently finished a new book: Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care which draws on literatures from six continents and dozens of languages.  Thornber is co-editor of The Poetics of Aging in the Japanese Narrative Arts (2015) and Global Indigeneities and the Environment (2016) as well as of several special journal issues on comparative Asian literatures, world literature, and global health. Thornber is also an award-winning translator of Japanese atomic-bomb poet Tōge Sankichi and has published more than seventy articles/book chapters on comparative and world literatures, environmental and medical humanities, diaspora, gender, indigeneities, transculturation (translation), and trauma, as well as the literatures and cultures of China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Indian Ocean Rim (South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa).


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