Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda

East Asian Languages and Cultures

Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda is a PhD candidate in East Asian Languages and Cultures, with a designated emphasis in Critical Theory. Her dissertation, titled “The Tree of Life: The Politics of Kinship in Meiji Japan and Victorian Britain 1880-1920,” examines how transnational literary writing produced between the spaces of the Japanese and British empires around the turn of the century looked to contemporaneous anthropological accounts of non-normative kinship structures in order to critique the overlapping institutions of the nuclear family and the nation state. The dissertation describes kinship as both a social and a literary form, arguing that challenges to the structure and ideology of the nuclear family during this period simultaneously inspired innovations in literary form that imagined new continuities between readers and writers not necessarily connected by biology or blood. Drawing on a diverse array of material from evolutionary theory and eugenics, to colonial anthropology, ethnography, and composite photography, I show how two writers in particular—Natsume Soseki and Lafcadio Hearn—situated themselves within the cultural and scientific discourses of their time to construct a literary notion of kinship that resisted the attempts of the state to co-opt the language of kinship for nationalistic and heteronormative ends.