College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Elaine Gerbert

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
Associate Professor
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall
Room 2101
University of Kansas
1445 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045-7594

Elaine Gerbert joined the University of Kansas faculty in 1990. She had done graduate work in Japanese literature at the University of Chicago (MA) and Yale University (PhD) after graduating from the University of California in English literature (BA). She has written a variety of articles exploring literary manifestations of Japanese modernity, indigenous religious celebrations, the play element in Japanese culture, the Japanese love of verisimilitude, Japanese education, and other topics. Her research has been awarded support from the NEH, the SSRC, the Hall Foundation, the Department of Education, and the Fulbright Commission (dissertation research).  Her publications have received awards from the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission and the Comparative and International Education Society. She is currently working on a study of laughter in Japanese culture. From 2002 to 2007 she was the Director of the Center for East Asian Studies. She served the University as Director of the Summer Study Abroad Program in Hiratsuka in 1993, 2012, and 2015 and is currently serving as the Undergraduate Coordinator for the EALC department and as the study abroad advisor for programs in Japan.


Selected publications:

A Strange Tale of Panorama Island  (University of Hawaii Press, 2013)

“Laughing Priests of the Atsuta Shrine Festival,” Humour and Religion. Challenges and Ambiguities, eds. Hans Geybels and Walter Van Herck (Continuum Press, 2010)

“Dolls in Japan,” Journal of Popular Culture, Comparative Studies in the World’s Civilizations 35.3 (Winter 2001): 59-89.

Love of Mountains: Two Stories by Uno Koji (University of Hawaii Press, 1997)

“The Suwa Pillar Festival Revisited,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 56.2 (December 1996): 317-74.

“Lessons from the Kokugo Reader, Comparative Education Review 37.2 (May 1992): 152-80.

Reprinted in Dimensions of Contemporary Japan, ed. Edward Beauchamp (Garland Publishing, 1998).


1st annual Graduation Ceremony


Our Statement on Diversity in support of Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk and the University of Kansas Black Student Union’s efforts to combat racism.
The School of Languages & Cultures serves as a gateway to understanding the diversity of the world, through learning languages, literatures, and cultures, past and present. Through its research and teaching, the SLLC offers students opportunities for deep engagement with a wide range of languages, literatures, and cultures that provide the knowledge and skills to interact with and understand the world. The faculty and students who teach, research, and learn in the SLLC consider issues of diversity fundamental to all of our work. The study of others' languages, literatures, and cultures enables us to develop deep empathy and perspective informs the way that we approach issues before us, whether on a personal, local, regional, national, or global scale. Therefore take it as axiomatic that the SLLC stands for a campus that is committed to the meaningful sharing, contemplation, and discussion of ideas that emerge from multiple cultural perspectives and experiences. We continually rededicate ourselves to the principle of diversity. We strive to create an atmosphere where all students and faculty feel comfortable and welcome to express their views as well as work together to solve conflict. Further, we view our mission as a center of diversity on a flagship campus as requiring us to lead by example.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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