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Joanne Bernardi

  • Professor of Japanese and Visual and Cultural Studies
  • Head, Japanese Program
  • Project Director, Re-Envisioning Japan: Japan as Destination in 20th C. Visual and Material Culture

PhD, Columbia University

409 Lattimore Hall
(585) 275-4251

Office Hours: By appointment only



My research, publications, and teaching focus on Japanese cinema, media, and culture; early and silent cinema; the history and historiography of moving images and other visual media; film and media preservation; material culture studies; critical digital humanities practice; and the intersection between the history of the atomic age and popular culture. This work draws on my background in East Asian studies, film and media studies, film archiving and preservation, and photography and filmmaking. I seek out opportunities to collaborate and work across and in the spaces between traditional academic disciplines; today, this is where the issues and questions most relevant to the humanities reside. My most recent publications include two co-edited volumes (one on Japanese cinema and one on early cinema and provenance) and a book chapter for an edited volume, Recollecting Collecting (ed. Lucy Fischer), about how my experience as a collector informs my research and teaching. I am currently working on two book monographs, including a study of the cinema of Juzo Itami. In addition to my scholarship in print, I direct Re-Envisioning Japan, an ongoing digital humanities project comprising a physical collection and critical digital archive that documents changing images of Japan and its place in the world in the early to mid-twentieth-century. I enjoy working with students in adjacent disciplines, particularly in the Departments of Art and Art History, English, and History, and I support several of the university’s interdisciplinary programs, including Digital Media Studies (Advisory Committee), Film and Media Studies (former FMS director and interim FMS director), the Selznick Graduate Program in Film and Media Preservation (a collaboration with George Eastman Museum), the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies (affiliated faculty), the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Woman and Gender Studies (Associate), the Literary Arts Programs (affiliated faculty), and the Graduate Program in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management (GEM collaboration, 2014-2019). My scholarship has received support from the ACLS, NEH, Fulbright, the Japan Foundation, the Association of Asian Studies North East Area Council, the Social Science Research Council, and the U.S.- Japan Friendship Commission.

Research Overview

Writing in light book cover.

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Cinema book cover.

Provenece and Early Cinema book cover.

Envisioning Japan promotional ad.

Video Presentations

“Film Preservation,” University of Rochester Faculty Spotlight (9/23/10)

“The Personal Collection as Alternative Archive,” The Makino Collection at Columbia: The Present and the Future of an Archive, Columbia University (11/11/11)

Research Interests

  • Japanese cinema and culture, especially popular culture
  • film and media studies
  • visual and material culture
  • moving image archiving and preservation
  • travel and tourism studies
  • nuclear culture
  • digital humanities
  • ephemera studies
  • object-based learning

Courses Offered (subject to change)

  • JPNS 207:  Film as Object (Spring 2022)
  • JPNS 214:  Atomic Creatures: Godzilla (Fall 2021)
  • JPNS 219A:  Tourist Japan/DH Lab (Fall 2022)
  • JPNS 270:  Straitjacket Society: The Cinema of Juzo Itami (Fall 2021)
  • JPNS 283:  History of Japanese Cinema (Fall 2010)
  • JPNS 285:  Director Studies: Akira Kurosawa (Spring 2021)
  • JPNS 291:  Contemporary Japanese Cinema (Spring 2010)
  • JPNS 294:  Hayao Miyazaki and Planet Ghibli (Spring 2021)

Selected Publications

Books and Monographs

Digital Scholarship

Book Chapters, Articles and Translations

Work in Progress

  • Films for the Living: The Cinema of Juzo Itami (Global Film Directors series, ed. H. Pettey and B. Palmer, Rutgers University Press)
  • “Animating Objects,” in Recollecting Collecting, ed. Lucy Fischer (contracted and submitted, Wayne State University Press).
  • Re-Envisioning Japan in 20th Century Visual and Material Culture (book manuscript).

Selected Conference Presentations

  • “New Paths toward Preserving Japanese Cinema: The Toy Film Museum Backstory,” presenter and session chair, “Redefining Cinema Research and Pedagogy: Workshopping the Routledge Handbook of Japanese Cinema,” Association for Asian Studies Virtual Conference, March 22, 2021.
  • Re-Envisioning Japan: Challenges and Rewards.” Participant and co-organizer, joint LLC Korean and LLC Japanese since 1900 Roundtable: “Digital Humanities in Japan and Korea: Approaches and Challenges.” Modern Languages Association, Seattle, January 12, 2020.
  • Collegium Dialogue: “Recent Discoveries: Tokkan Kozō.” Presentation on the discovery, digital restoration, and DCP production of Tokkan Kozō, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (Pordenone Silent Film Festival), Pordenone, Italy, October 10, 2018.
  • “Kazuo Miyagawa: Japan’s Greatest Cameraman.” Guest moderator, discussion with Ichiro Miyagawa and Masahiro Miyajima. Spring 2018 Globus Film Series, Japan Society, New York, NY, April 14, 2018.
  • “Making as Inquiry: Re-Envisioning Japan as Faculty-Library Collaboration.” Plenary keynote, Presidential Panel. Plenary session of the Council on East Asian Libraries (CEAL). Association of Asian Studies, Washington DC, March 21, 2018.
  • “Digital Approaches to Japanese Media.” Panel organizer, chair, and presenter, “The Resonance of Digital Space: New Critical Practices in Digital Curation.” Modern Language Association, New York, NY, January 4, 2018.
  • “Archives in Between: Digital Humanities and Material Culture in Asian Studies Scholarship and Teaching.” Workshop chair, presenter. Association for Asian Studies, Toronto, March 19, 2017.
  • Re-Envisioning Japan: Ephemeral Film Recuperation, Restoration, and Digital Curation.” Panel organizer, chair, and presenter. Association of Moving Image Archivists, Pittsburgh, November 9, 2016.


Courses on Japanese cinema, media, and culture; early and silent cinema; film history, theory, and critical analysis; digital humanities; nuclear culture and the visual image; animation; history of US-Japan relations; material culture studies; tourism studies; moving image archiving and preservation; object-based learning

Media and Press

Honors and Activities

  • Rochester Center for Community Leadership, Community Engaged Learning Grants (Tourist Japan, Film as Object), 2015-2018
  • Co-PI, The Humanities Project (UR): Convener, 15th International Domitor Conference & Graduate Workshop: The Nitrate Touch. UR Collaboration with George Eastman Museum and the Domitor International Society for the Study of Early Cinema, June 11-12, 2018
  • PI, The Humanities Project (UR): Internment: A Pilgrimage to WWII Japanese-American Internment Camps. Exhibit co-curator, contemporary photographs of WWII campsites by Margaret Miyake and anti-Japanese WWII ephemera from the Re-Envisioning Japan research collection. Hartnett Gallery, University of Rochester, November 17 - December 11, 2016
  • University of Rochester Researcher Mobility Travel Grant (The 11th Film Preservation Workshop, Kyoto), August 2016
  • University of Rochester Pilot Research Award ($21,442), 2014-2015
  • NEH Summer Institute Fellow, Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, 2013
  • University of Rochester College Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtable Faculty Grant, 2011-2012
  • Co-PI, The Humanities Project (UR): Film Lost and Found: The Experience of Pre- and Silent Cinema, Collaboration with George Eastman House and Eastman School of Music, Spring 2010
  • Co-PI, The Humanities Project (UR): Global East Asia: Media, Popular Culture, and the Pacific Century, Spring 2009
  • Co-PI, The Humanities Project (UR): The Future of the Archive in the Digital Age, 2006-2007
  • Advisory Editor, "Camera Obscura," 2006-present
  • Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) Educational Committee, 2005-present
  • Japan Foundation Short Term Research Grant, 2003-2004
  • NEH Summer Institute Fellow, University of Southern California, 2002
  • Japan Foundation Publication Grant, "Writing in Light," 2001
  • Finalist, Theatre Library Association Book Award, "Writing in Light," 2001
  • Susan B. Anthony Research Institute for Women's Studies Research Grant, 1995
  • Association of Asian Studies Northeast Area Council Research Grant, 1995
  • ACLS International Conference Travel Grant, International Symposium on Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Università di Venezia Ca' Foscari, 1994
  • Harvard University, Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, 1993-1994
  • Fulbright/Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, Doctoral research, 1984-1986
  • Social Science Research Council, Doctoral research, 1984-1985