Sumie  Jones

Sumie Jones

Professor Emeritus, Comparative Literature

Professor Emeritus, East Asian Languages and Cultures


  • Ph.D., Comparative Literature, University of Washington, 1979

About Sumie Jones

Sumie Jones is Professor Emerita in the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and the Media School, at Indiana University, Bloomington, where she taught from 1978 to 2006. She held a position as a Residential Fellow at Indiana University's Institute for Advanced Study from 2008 to 2020, as well as visiting positions at Harvard University, the University of Tokyo, the International Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, and Rikkyo University, Tokyo.

She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Waseda University, Tokyo, and an MA and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington, Seattle.

Specializing in 18th-century comparative literature and arts--English, French, Chinese and Japanese--with focus on Japan's Edo and Meiji periods--, Jones is known for her unique interpretation of literary, visual, and dramatic texts from the perspectives of psychoanalysis, semiotics, and theories of gender and sexuality. Her chief interest is in the relationship between word, image and performance as well as between the text and its reader/spectator. 

She has authored books and articles as well as delivering lectures, papers, and speeches in both English and Japanese. Retorikku to shite no Edo (The Rhetoric of Edoism) was followed by many publications comprising of comparative studies of Edo arts as in "William Hogarth and Kitao Masanobu: Reading Eighteenth-Century Pictorial Narratives" and "Shunbon o yomu watakushitachi" (How We Read Erotic Books of Edo).

Her translated works includes selections from Shunkintei Ryūō's staged narrative (ninjōbanashi) The Bad Girl Prefers Black and Yellow Plaid (Adamusume konomi no hachijō) and her theory of translation is represented by "Vanishing Boundaries: Translation in a Multilingual World."

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Japan Foundation, the Toshiba International Foundation, Suntory Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, American Council of Learned Societies, and Social Science Research Council, Jones has led large-scale collaborative research projects: an international conference and exhibition on The Tale of Genji (1982), research workshops resulting in an international conference and exhibition on sexuality and image-making during the latter Edo period in Japan (1995), and the compilation of a three-volume anthology in English of early modern Japanese popular culture.

She is Editor-in-Chief and featured translator for her three-volume anthology of early modern Japanese urban literature, A Kamigata Anthology: Literature from Japan’s Metropolitan Centers, 1600-1750, An Edo Anthology: Literature from Japan’s Mega City, 1750-1850, and A Tokyo Anthology: Literature from Japan’s Modern Capital, 18501920.

She has served as a member of the Northwest Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies, Evaluator of proposals and Judges’ Panels for National Endowment for the Humanities, Advisory Board for the 13th Congress of International Comparative Literature Association, Publication Board of Languages and Literatures of the Modern Language Association. Editorial Board for Japan Review

Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) granted her and her co-organizer a citation award for a group of ten items prepared in connection with conference and exhibition on The Tale of Genji (1982), Indiana University granted her the Trustees Teaching Award (2002), and the Donald Keene Center for Japanese Culture, Columbia University, honored her with a Lindsley and Masao Miyoshi Lifetime-Achievement Prize for Translation and the Editing of Translation (2019).