I specialize in early modern Japanese language, literature and culture, with a particular focus on genders/sexualities and medicine.
I completed a Master in Japanese Studies and a Bachelor in English Literature at the University of Vienna, with periods of study at Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice and Meiji University in Tokyo. My Master’s thesis focused on the depiction of male-male same-sex desire in comic literature of the Edo period. I then studied for a PhD in Japanese at the University of Cambridge. My PhD thesis Sexual Healing. Sexuality, Health and the Body in Early Modern Japan (1600-1868), which I am currently preparing for publication with Cambridge University Press, explored medical views of sex as a health and disease concept in the Edo period. Following an appointment as visiting lecturer in pre-modern Japanese literature and language at Yale University, I joined the University of Ghent in July 2017 to work on a new BOF-funded research project on the imagination of health and disease in early modern Japan, particularly in late 18th- and early 19th-century popular fiction.
I am also interested in material aspects of books, early modern scripts and language styles (bungo, kanbun, kuzushiji) and seek to explore new pathways in Digital Humanities to highlight such features that are less suitable to conventional publication formats. My online project Blood, Tears and Samurai Love: Reading a Treasure from Yale's Beinecke Library, done in collaboration with resource specialists and students from Yale University, aims to produce a critical online edition of an early 18th century manuscript recently acquired by Yale's Beinecke Library https://tenthousandrooms.yale.edu/project/blood-tears-and-samurai-love-reading-treasure-yales-beinecke-collection.
In addition, I am also part of the collaborative project Timing Day and Night: ‘Timescapes’ in Pre-modern Japan, which explores time as a set of social practices prior to the introduction of the Western time system. (http://www.research.ames.cam.ac.uk/research-groups/japanese-korean-studies-rg/Japanese-korean-studies-rg-projects/timescapes). In April 2015, I convened the international conference Timing Day and Night at the University of Cambridge. In September 2016, I was awarded a JSPS Fellowship at Tokyo University to pursue further research for this project in Japan.
Beyond this, my academic and teaching interests extend to modern and contemporary Japan. I co-edited a volume on genders and sexualities in contemporary Japan (Manga Girl Seeks Herbivore Boy. Studying Japanese Gender at Cambridge (LIT 2013) http://www.research.ames.cam.ac.uk/research-groups/japanese-korean-studies-rg/Japanese-korean-studies-rg-projects/Steger3) and more recently a second volume on contemporary masculinities Cool Japanese Men: Studying New Masculinities at Cambridge (LIT, 2017) https://www.ames.cam.ac.uk/news-events/latest/cool-japanese-men-studying-new-masculinities-at-cambridge. A third and final volume on contemporary feminities is currently in preparation.
Education and Research
7/2017-Present: BOF Research Fellow, University of Ghent
1/2017-5/2017: Visiting Lecturer in East Asian Languages and Literatures, Yale University
9/2016-12/2016: Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences Fellow, University of Tokyo
10/2014-8/2016: Research Associate and Adjunct Lecturer Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge
9/2011-3/2012: Japan Foundation Phd Fellowship, Ritsumeikan University
1/2010-10/2014: PhD Fellow, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge
(forthcoming) ‘Medicine as Metaphor: Body, Health and Disease in Late Eigtheenth-Century Popular Fiction.'
(forthcoming) 'Jippensha Ikku’s The Essentials of Healthy Living Inside the Abdomen (Hara no uchi yōjō shuron 腹内養生主論, 1799). An Introduction and Annotated Translation''
(forthcoming) 'Diplomatic Devices: The Social Life of Foreign Timepieces in Late Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth Century Japan'
2017 Brigitte Steger and Angelika Koch (eds) Cool Japanese Men: Studying New Masculinities at Cambridge (LIT Publisher)
3/2017 ‘Nightless Cities. Timing the Pleasure Quarters in Early Modern Japan’, Kronoscope: The International Journal for the Study of Time 17/1 (Special Issue Time in Historic Japan, ed. by Raji Steineck and Brigitte Steger)
2013 ‘Sexual Healing. Regulating Male Sexuality in Edo Books on Nurturing Life’, International Journal of Asian Studies 10/2, pp. 143-170
2013 Brigitte Steger and Angelika Koch (eds) Manga Girl Seeks Herbivore Boy. Studying Japanese Gender at Cambridge. (LIT publisher)
2011 ‘Between the Back and the Front: Male Love in Humorous Tales of the Edo Period’,Vienna Journal of East Asian Studies 1, pp. 1-32
3/2018 '"Softening" of "Cool" Japanese Men not what it seems' Japan Times https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/01/national/social-issues/softening-cool-japanese-men-not-seems-book/
2/2018 'How Japan's "Salaryman" Is Becoming Cool' University of Cambridge Research News https://www.cam.ac.uk/CoolJapaneseMen
1/2015 ‘Why Don’t Japanese Men Like Having Sex?’ The Telegraph
2/2013 ‘Herbivore Boys and Other Fault Lines in Japan’s Gender Crisis’ University of Cambridge Research News http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/herbivore-boys-and-other-fault-lines-in-japans-gender-crisis
Winter Term 2019
Classical Japanese Text and Context 2: The Healthy Body in Early Modern Japan
This Master-level course is intended to build proficiency in reading specialized texts in classical Japanese, centred around the theme of health and the body in Edo Japan, and to place the primary sources within the context of contemporary medical culture and society. Students will be able to familiarize themselves with a broad variety of early modern material, ranging from health cultivation manuals like Kaibara Ekiken’s best-selling Yōjōkun (1713), to
didactic works for women, popular fiction, medical advertisements and colourful woodblock ‘measle’ prints providing health advice during epidemics (hashika-e). Emphasis is given to the material aspects of the texts in their original format, in order to lay the foundations for more in-depth competency and students’ independent research. Based on their reading of primary and secondary texts on topics such as the female body, doctors in popular fiction or syphilis treatments, students will have the opportunity to reflect on how the body, health and disease need to be understood as cultural categories that have different meanings across time.