Maki Isaka

Photo of Maki Isaka

Contact Me

Asian & Middle Eastern Studies .
228C Folwell Hall

9 Pleasant St SE

Educational Background & Specialties


  • Japanese theater and literature; Gender studies
Courses Taught
  • ALL1910W: Thinking Gender in Japanese Literature and Theater (Lib Ed req of WI)
  • ALL1911W: Mind and Muscle: Philosophy and the Martial Arts
  • AMES 3420: Topics in Japanese Culture: Performing Arts and Martial Arts, AnOther Philosophy in Japan
  • ALL3433W: Traditional Japanese Literature in Translation (Lib Ed req of Ltr [Literature Core]; WI)
  • ALL3441W: Japanese Theater (Lib Ed req of AH [Arts/Humanities Core]; WI)
  • ALL3442: Performing Arts in Japan
  • JPN5041: Readings in Japanese Texts: Literature and Culture
  • JPN 5160: Topics in Japanese Literature: Japanese Feminisms
  • JPN 5160: Topics in Japanese Literature: Secrecy in Japanese Esoteric Texts
  • ALL5433: Women's Writing in Premodern Japan in Translation
  • ALL5446: Kabuki: A Pop, Queer, and Classical Theater in Japan
  • ALL5920: Topics in Asian Culture: "Cross-Gender" Performance in Japanese Theater
  • ALL 8920: Topics in Asian Culture: "Gendering" in Premodern Japan: AnOther Philosophy
Research & Professional Activities


  • "Women's gidayû-music and its fandom in modern Japan" (Gidayû is vocal music providing music, narration, and characters' voices of a puppet theater, bunraku. Dating from the seventeenth century, both are now defined as all-male traditional performing arts, and gidayû has been based on a masculine voice. Female chanters nevertheless participated in gidayû by emulating male performers, under men's names and in men's clothing.):
  • "Gender and onnagata" (Onnagata refers to male actors who perform the roles of women in the kabuki theater: This project studies how gender has been constructed, understood, and theorized in the discourse of onnagata.)
  • "Osanai Kaoru, modernity, and modern Japanese theater" (Osanai Kaoru is considered one of the founders of shingeki [New Theater]: This project studies his writings in terms of "modernity and Japanese theater.")
  • "Gei esotericism in Japanese arts" (Gei esotericism refers to "secret transmission" by which dancers, swordsmen, etc. transmitted their expertise: This project studies gei esotericism as a readable logic in its own right, not as a mysterious feature of Japanese culture.)
  • "Yearning for the 'West': Osanai Kaoru and the Concept of Stand-alone Dramas in Modern Japan." In A Companion to World Literature, 6 vols., edited by Ken Seigneurie (general editor). Volume 5b: 1920 to Early Twenty-First Century II, edited by B. Venkat Mani and Ken Seigneurie (volume editors). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell (published by the Publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc.), 2020. 3379-3389. For the home page of the encyclopedia at Wiley Online Library: . Download
  • Onnagata: A Labyrinth of Gendering in Kabuki Theater. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2016. (now available in paperback & ebook)
  • "What Could Have Happened to 'Femininity' in Japanese Stagecraft: A Memorial Address to Yamada Isuzu (1917-2012)." positions: asia critique 21.3 (Summer 2013): 755-759.
  • "Box-Lunch Etiquette: Conduct Guides and Kabuki Onnagata." In Manners and Mischief: Gender, Power, and Etiquette in Japan. Edited by Jan Bardsley and Laura Miller. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. 48-66.
  • "Images of Onnagata: Complicating the Binarisms, Unraveling the Labyrinth." In PostGender: Gender, Sexuality and Performativity in Japanese Culture. Edited by Ayelet Zohar. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009. 22-38.
  • "Women Onnagata in the Porous Labyrinth of Femininity: On Ichikawa Kumehachi I." U.S.-Japan Women's Journal 30-31 (2006): 105-131.
  • Secrecy in Japanese Arts: "Secret Transmission" as a Mode of Knowledge. New York: Palgrave, 2005. (now available in paperback & ebook)
  • "Osanai Kaoru's Dilemma: 'Amateurism by Professionals' in Modern Japanese Theatre." TDR/The Drama Review 49.1 (Spring 2005): 119-133. Italian translation: "Il dilemma di Osanai Kaoru. «Amatorismo dei professionisti» nel teatro giapponese moderno." Trans. Giuseppe Goisis. Teatro e Storia 19.26 (2005): 315-335.; Electronic edition (2007).
  • "The Gender of Onnagata As the Imitating Imitated: Its Historicity, Performativity, and Involvement in the Circulation of Femininity." positions: east asia cultures critique 10.2 (Fall 2002): 245-284. Chinese translation: "Dui bei mofang zhe de mofang: 'Nüxing' de shehui xingbie--qi lishixing, caoyanxing ji qi zai nüxing tezhi chuanbo zhong de canyu." Trans. Zheng Yanfang; Checked by Zhang Ying. In Wang Zheng and Zhang Ying, editors-in-chief, Nanxing yanjiu: Masculinity Studies. Shanghai: Shanghai Sanlian Shudian, 2012. 253-291. Reprinted (English) in Gender and Japanese Society, vol.4., edited by Dolores P. Martinez. In Critical Concepts in Asian Studies series. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. 31-60.