profile photograph

David Barnett Lurie

Associate Professor of Japanese History and Literature, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University (January 2002-present).

(For a pdf of an up-to-date CV click here.)
B.A. in Literature from Harvard University (1993, magna cum laude); M.A. (1996) and Ph.D. (2001, with distinction) in Japanese Literature from Columbia University.
Selected Papers and Publications (for errata click here; for a list of downloadable pdfs click here)
  • “Dead Goddesses and Living Narratives: Variant Accounts in Early Japanese Mythology,” École Francaise d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) and Scuola Italiana di Studi sull'Asia Orientale (ISEAS), Kyoto Lectures, 4 June 2018
  • “The Lexicographical Revolution in Modern Japan,” Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, 14 May 2018
  • “Rethinking Kana Teleology: Persistence of, and Progress Towards, Logography in the History of Japanese Writing,” at “Issues Regarding Religion and Society in Ancient and Medieval Japan,” Princeton University, 4 November 2017
  • “Linguistics as a History of Itself: The Retrospective Impulse of National Language Studies in late 19th/early 20th Century Japan,” at “Philology and the Science of Language, 1850-1950,” Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, 2 June 2017
  • “The Epigraphic Archive of Early Japan: Kariya Ekisai’s Inscriptions of the Ancient Capitals (1818) and its 20th Century Sequel,” American History Association Annual Meeting, Denver, 5 January 2017
  • “The Poetics of Refrigeration in Classical Japanese Literature,” at "ICE3: An Inquiry into the Aesthetics, History, and Science of Ice," Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Columbia University, 15 April 2016
  • “The Virtue of Promiscuity: Orikuchi Shinobu’s Irogonomi and the Imagined World of Antiquity,” at “Imagining the World in Premodern Japan” (Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities, UCLA), Los Angeles, 19 March 2016
  • “Introduction: Writing, Literacy, and the Origins of Japanese Literature”; “Myth and History in the Kojiki, Nihon shoki, and Related Works”; and “Fudoki Gazetteers,” in The Cambridge History of Japanese Literature, ed. Haruo Shirane and Tomi Suzuki with David Lurie, Cambridge University Press, 2016
  • “Toward a General History of Writing: Thinking with Innis and Gelb,” talk at the Neubauer Collegium, University of Chicago, 21 February 2014
  • “Talking Trees and the One-Word Lord: Language Gods in Ancient Japan,” talk at the Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford University, 19 November 2013
  • “A Tale of Two Arrows: The Significant Detail in Japanese Mythology,” talk at the Center for East Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 9 October 2013
  • Sekai no mojishi to Man'yoshu [“The Man'yoshu and the World History of Writing”], Kasama Shoin, 2013
  • The Development of Japanese Writing,” in The Shape of Script: How and Why Writing Systems Change, ed. Stephen Houston, SAR Press, 2012
  • Realms of Literacy: Early Japan and the History of Writing, Harvard University Asia Center, 2011
  • “Tsuda Sokichi (1873-1961) and the Age of the Gods: The Persistence of Early Modern Approaches to Ancient Texts,” talk at Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, UCLA, 23 May 2011
  • "Titles of the Current Realm: Script, Language, and the Earliest Japanese Bibliographies," talk at Toronto Centre for the Book, 18 March 2011
  • "Man'yoshu no moji hyogen o kano ni suru joken (oboegaki)" (Notes on the Factors that Enable Expressive Inscription in the Man'yoshu), Kokugo to kokubungaku 84:11 (November 2007).
  • "Language, Writing, and Disciplinarity in the Critique of the 'Ideographic Myth': Some Proleptical Remarks," Language & Communication 26 (2006)
  • "Orientomology: The Insect Literature of Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904)," in JAPANimals: History and Culture in Japan's Animal Life, ed. Gregory M. Pflugfelder and Brett L. Walker, University of Michigan Press, 2005.
  • "The Author Formerly Known as Prince Shotoku: Royal Authority and Narratives of Literacy in Early Japan," paper delivered, Association of Asian Studies Annual Meeting: Chicago, 3 April 2005.
  • "On the Inscription of the Hitomaro Poetry Collection: Between Literary History and the History of Writing," Man'yoshu kenkyu 26 (May 2004).
  • "Windows on Japanese Literature"; six-part monthly newspaper series introducing modern Japanese authors (Ibuse Masuji, Enchi Fumiko, Inoue Yasushi, Endo Shusaku, Abe Kobo, Ariyoshi Sawako) to English-speaking readers. Daily Mainichi: Tokyo, February-July 2000.
Research interests
  • History of writing systems
  • Cultural, intellectual, and literary history of early Japan
  • Development of reading systems and Japanese reception of Chinese texts
  • History of Japanese dictionaries and encyclopedias
  • Emergence of the hiragana and katakana syllabaries in 9th century Japan
  • Medieval and early modern commentaries on early Japanese texts
  • Early modern Japanese epigraphic and antiquarian studies
  • History of Japanese linguistic thought
  • Japanese and comparative mythology
  • World philology
Contact Information
c/o Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
407 Kent Hall
Columbia University Mail Code 3907
1140 Amsterdam Avenue
New York NY 10027

(212) 854-5316; fax (212) 678-8629

Current and Past Courses 

Tribute to Reuben Lurie (1898-1985)

Page created 24 November 2001; revised 16 August 2018