As an Associate Professor of Modern German Literature at the University of Tokyo, I offer four courses per semester in the Faculty of Letters and Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology. My teaching covers canonical topics from the late 18th to the mid-20th century and seeks to bring students into a fresh dialogue with historical personalities ranging from Goethe and the romanticists to Thomas Mann and the modernist writers. These classes take literary texts as a powerful medium to put us in contact with our past and they aim at exploring how literature is a social practice that circulates collective energies throughout times and cultures. International guest researchers contribute to the classes by giving lectures and providing opportunities for students to widen their perspectives and to make new contacts. The texts examined in class are normally in German but selected of course in respect to available standard translations in English and Japanese. I hope these classes help enable students to both consolidate and extend their existing hermeneutic skills, and provide helpful preparation if they intend to study for some time in a German-speaking country. Please make good use of the relevant items in the “Downloads” and “Links” sections of this website.
In the tradition of German academia, I strongly believe in the Humboldtian ideal of the unity of research and teaching. My work is guided particularly by intellectual history with a keen interest in the social entanglements of literature. It began with examining the conditions of individuality in Goethe’s novels and tales, which was also the topic of my first book. From Goethe and individuality I moved on to the work of Alfred Doeblin in regard to masses, media and metropolises. My second book is dedicated to this Jewish-German writer’s time in Berlin, Paris and Los Angeles and his engagement with film and radio. German writing on Hollywood and on the transpacific relations between China, Japan and the US occupies me as well as European self-reflection in terms of the occident or “Abendland.” My third book, a biography, critically deals with the issues of the construction of collective identity in Germany between 1900 und 1950 by means of a less well-known Christian writer, Hans Heinrich Ehrler, who engaged in widespread discourses on “Heimat” and “Abendland.” In my fourth book, I examined the use of Goethe’s life and letters in German-Japanese diplomacy and in Japanese nation building. Please check out the book previews and videos in the “Publications” section of this website.
I value the improvement of data-rich literary history through digital humanities and the building of cross-national communities through social media. Of particular interest for me is the corpus of Migration and Aesthetics and the Living Handbook of Temporal Communities. I highly appreciate reading initiatives such as #MutuallyMann and joint projects such as #MannsLA and #GoetheMoMa. The Instagram gallery @kepplertasaki shares impressions of animals and of artifacts of animals in different cultural contexts, mainly in Tokyo and several parts of Germany and California.