Brian Steininger studies the literature of early and medieval Japan, with particular interest in the reception of Chinese texts. He has studied at Macalester College, the University of Tokyo, and Keio University, and earned his Ph.D. from Yale University. Before joining the Princeton faculty in 2013, he taught at Bates College (Lewiston, Maine).
Steininger’s research treats the applications of Chinese literature and scholarship in Japan. His first book, Chinese Literary Forms in Heian Japan: Poetics and Practice (forthcoming, Harvard University Asia Center) treats the composition of parallel prose and regulated verse by Japanese officials in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Reconstructing the circulation of literary documents as tokens of exchange and ritual performances, it analyzes how universalized aesthetic principles were reinterpreted in accordance with the exigencies of quotidian practice. Steininger’s current project, Following the Gloss: The Medieval Japanese Book as History, draws on manuscript evidence to uncover networks of Sinological scholarship in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Social reconfiguration, booming foreign trade, and developments in local printing produced an epochal turning point in knowledge and the circulation of texts in Japan.