Dr Irena Hayter


  • Director of Postgraduate Research Studies

Research interests

I hold MA degrees in Japanese studies and cultural studies from the universities of Sofia and Kyoto, and a PhD in modern Japanese literature from SOAS, University of London. My work takes place at the intersection of literature, visuality and cultural history. The overarching concern is with the perceptual changes of the 1920s and 30s in Japan and their urban and technological contexts. Several journal articles and book chapters have explored the effects of these changes not only on aesthetic practices, but on the whole politico-ideological domain and particularly on the writing of gender and subjectivity. This trans-disciplinary approach is informed by close readings that attend to the rhetorical textures of both language and image, but are also sensitive to historical circumstances and global synchronicities. My current book project is a media-historical investigation of urban spectacle, technologies of image commodification and literary modernism in interwar Japan.



Tenkô: Cultures of Political Conversion in Trans-war Japan, edited by Mark Williams, Irena Hayter and George T. Sipos (under review with Routledge).

journal articles

(2017) 'For the Eyes Only: The Sensory Politics of Japanese Modernism ', Bunron – Zeitschrift für literaturwissenschaftliche Japanforschung, 4, 125–48.

(2017) 'Figures of the Visual: Japanese Modernism, Technology, Vitalism', positions: asia critique 25 (2), 299–322.

(2015) 'Modernism, Gender and Consumer Spectacle in 1920s Tokyo', Japan Forum 27 (4), 454–75.

(2014) 'Ishikawa Jun, the Logic of the Gaze and the Bodies of Modernism', Japanese Language and Literature 48 (1), 129–49.

(2012) 'Technologies of Estrangement: Dazai Osamu, Flowers of Buffoonery’, POETICA: An International Journal of Linguistic-Literary Studies 78, 31–47.

book chapters

(in progress) 'The Disjointed Narratives and Fractured Subjects of Takami Jun', in Irena Hayter, George T. Sipos and Mark Williams (eds.), Tenkô: Cultures of Political Conversion in Trans-War Japan (under review with Routledge).

(forthcoming ), 'Retour sur la fille moderne : spectacle, politique, subjectivité', in Sandra Schaal and Fréderic Ebrard (eds.), Reconsidérer le ‘Modan’: La ville, le corps et le genre dans le Japon de l’entre-deux guerres (Paris: Éditions Picquier).

(2010), 'In the Flesh: The Historical Unconscious of Ishikawa Jun’s Fugen', in Nina Cornyetz and J. Keith Vincent (eds.), Perversion in Modern Japan: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Culture (London: Routledge ), 201–20.

review articles

(2017), 'Review article: Seth Jacobowitz, Writing Technology in Meiji Japan: A Media History of Modern Japanese Literature and Visual Culture '(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center), Japan Forum.

(2015), 'Review of Ken Kawashima, Fabian Schäffer and Robert Stolz (eds), Tosaka Jun: A Critical Reader' (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University East Asia Program, 2014), Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 78 (2), 424–25.

(2012), 'Book review: Stephen Andriopoulos, Possessed: Hypnotic Crimes, Corporate Fiction, and the Invention of Cinema (Chicago: Chicago University of Press, 2008) and Aaron Gerow, A Page of Madness: Cinema and Modernity in 1920s Japan (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, 2008), ' scope: an online journal of film and TV studies 23, 27–35.

Workshops and conference panels organised

(2018) ‘Images, Commodities, Embodied Women: Film Stars and the Spectacle of Japanese Modernity 1926–1936’: panel at BAJS conference.
(2018) ‘The Senses and the Meanings of Modernity in East Asia, 1890–1945 and beyond’: a workshop at SOAS, University of London.
(2017) ‘Tenkô in Trans-War Japan: Politics, Culture, History’: an international workshop at the University of Leeds, co-organised with Mark Williams.

(2015) ‘The Senses and the Meanings of Modernity in Late Meiji and Taisho Japan’: panel at AAS Chicago.
(2014) ‘Figuring Gender in East Asia: Image, Music, Text’: PhD workshop at the University of Leeds.

Selected invited lectures and conference papers

(2018) ‘Phantasmatic Projections: The Film Star and the Fashion Model’: paper presented at BAJS conference.
(2017) ‘Disjointed Narratives, Fractured Selves: Takami Jun, the Marxist as Modernist’: paper presented at the workshop ‘Tenkô in Trans-war Japan: Culture, Politics, History’.
(2016) ‘About the Modern Girl, Again: Spectacle, Politics, Subjectivity’: invited lecture, Oxford Brookes University.
(2016) ‘For the Eyes Only: The Sensory Politics of Japanese Modernism’: paper presented at ‘Text and Film in Interaction: Japanese Studies Conference’, Freie Universität Berlin.
(2015) ‘Modernism, Gender and Consumer Spectacle in 1920s Tokyo’: invited lectures at Cardiff University and the University of Manchester.
(2015) ‘The Sensuousness of New Sensationism and Other Modernist Myths’: paper presented at AAS Chicago.
(2013) ‘The City, the Cinema, the Department Store: Gender and Visuality in Interwar Japan’, keynote address, ‘Rediscovering the Diva: Considering the Impact of Female Star Personae in Japanese Film and Visual Media’, a workshop at SOAS, University of London.
(2012) ‘Vitalism and Technology in Japanese Literary Modernism’: paper presented at the conference ‘Modernism and Spectacle’, Modernist Studies Association, Las Vegas.

(2011) ‘The Department Store, the Mannequin Girl and the Politics of the Gaze in Interwar Japan’: invited lectures at the University of Oxford and SOAS, University of London.


My article  'Robotics, Science Fiction and the Search for the Perfect Artificial Woman '  (The Conversation, 24 Oct 2017) was republished in the EconoTimes, Yahoo! News , Metro online edition (25 Oct 2017) and The Independent (online and i-paper print edition, 2 Nov 2017).

I have contributed to a BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking programme on Japanese animation. 

Public Engagement

I have chaired a panel on the new English translation of the The Tale of Genji at the Bradford Literature Festival, contributed to a panel discussion on gender and city following a screening of Mikio Naruse's When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, part of the Barbican season 'City Visions', and have served as discussant for a public lecture by Kôno Shion on 'World Literature: Japanese Perspectives' organised by the Japan Foundation, amongst other activities.

Research Supervision and Examination

lead supervisor

Jane Wallace (PhD) Being LGBT in Japan: An Ethnographic Study of the Politics of Identity and Belonging (completed).

John Harwood (MAR) Intersubjectivity in the Works of Arishima Takeo and Lu Xun (completed).

Victoria Young (PhD) Inciting Difference in the Literatures of Sakiyama Tami, Yi Yang-ji and Tawada Yoko (completed).

Hannah Tamura (PhD) Gender, Love and Text in the Early Writings of Kanai Mieko (completed).

I have examined PhD and MAR theses at the universities of Birkbeck and SOAS, as well as internally at Leeds.  

Research Projects

The Senses and the Meanings of Modernity in East Asia 

Spectacular Subjects: Modernism, Gender and Visuality in Interwar Japan 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • British Association for Japanese Studies
  • European Association for Japanese Studies
  • Association for Asian Studies

Student education

I offer an introductory undergraduate module on Japan's cultural history. More specialised teaching focuses on Japanese cinema (on both undergraduate and postgraduate level) and on gender and sexuality in modern Japanese literature.  I contribute to undergraduate teaching at all levels across the School and Faculty.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures
  • Japanese
  • Centre for World Literatures
  • Gender
  • Cinema and Television
  • History
  • Literary studies
  • East Asian Studies
  • Asia Pacific Studies
  • Digital cultures
  • Digital Cultures

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>