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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)


The list below shows Durham University research staff who are members of IMEMS. Click the member's name to see a more detailed biography and department.

We also welcome anyone from outside the University with an interest in our work to join. Membership is free of charge. You will receive invitations to our programme of events, with a weekly emails digest about what is happening in the Insitute and further afield. To join IMEMS contact:

Dr Rebekah Clements, LLB (A.N.U.), BAsian Studies (Specialist) Hons. (A.N.U), MA (Waseda), PhD (Cantab.)

Contact Dr Rebekah Clements (email at


I am a cultural historian of Japan working mainly on the Tokugawa and early Meiji periods. My research is characterized by an interest in language, society, and the characteristics of Japanese early modernity, with an eye to the broader East Asian context.

Before coming to Durham I was a Research Associate at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge, and held an overlapping Junior Research Fellowship at Queens' College. It was while at Queens' that I completed my first monograph, A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan, which examined the formative role played by translation from classical Japanese, Chinese, and Dutch in the lives of Japanese scholars and the rapidly-developing Tokugawa print industry, arguing that Japan's culture of translation did not begin in the Meiji period.

Current Research

My recent work has developed my interests in translation history in order to reshape our understanding of the history of Chinese language learning and cultural exchange in late seventeenth and early eighteenth century East Asia. I have focused on the linguistic and religious networks of exchange that linked seventeenth and early eighteenth century Japanese elites with Chinese exiles from the Ming dynasty then present in Japan, as well as exchanges between Japanese and Korean diplomatic missions. 

Starting in autumn of 2018 I will be the PI of a project entitled "The Aftermath of the East Asian War of 1592-1598", which is funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant. The project, which will run over five years will investigate the demographic, environmental, and material legacy of the Imjin War in Korea, Japan, and China, focusing on the seventeenth century but not precluding ongoing effects in the region.

Postgraduate Supervision

My five year European Research Council project includes funding for two PhD students, and I would welcome enquiries from students interested in pursuing a PhD on the aftermath of the war in Japan and/or Korea. More details of these studentships, and postdoctoral positions funded through the project will be available in due course.

Separate to the grant, I would also welcome general enquiries from students interested in pursuing a PhD in early modern Japanese history, particularly those who would like to focus on the history of translation or transculturation, the history of the book and the early modern Japanese publishing industry, or the history of Sino-Japanese exchange.

Research Interests

  • Cultural history of early modern Japan
  • East Asian networks
  • History of translation
  • 17th-19th century East Asia
  • Classical Japanese literature, script and scribal traditions

Reviews of Rebekah Clements, A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan is originally conceived, painstakingly researched, and convincingly argued. Clements makes a landmark contribution to our understanding of the circulation of knowledge in East Asia and to the history of cultural exchange in the literate world.” G.G. Rowley, Waseda University, cover endorsement.

 “…Clements’s book fills a lacuna that for too long has been “the elephant in the scholarly room” in the field of early modern Japan. Surely it will become an essential reference source for those seeking any sort of information on translation practices prior to the Meiji Restoration. The service she has done for the field with this encyclopedic study is immense.” Federico Marcon, Review, Monomenta Nipponica, 71:1 (2016), pp.152-158.

 “'Clements' book is a thorough and extensively annotated look at the kinds of early modern texts that were translated, who translated them, and the various and fascinating forms that those translations took … one of the strengths of this book is the depth of scholarship evident throughout and the ease with which she navigates discussions of such varied fields as translation theory, Confucian studies, and classical Japanese poetry.” Jan Leuchtenberger, Review, Journal of Jesuit Studies 3:2 (2016), pp.288-290.

International Collaboration

  • 江戸時代初期出版と学問の綜合的研究(A Comprehensive Study of Publishing and Learning in the Early Edo Period)

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Clements, Rebekah (2011). もう一つの注釈書?――江戸時代における『源氏物語』の初期俗語訳の意義――. In 平安文学の古注釈と受容. 陣野英則 & 緑川真知子 武蔵野書院. 3: 39-55.
  • Clements, Rebekah (2008). ヨーロッパがはじめて『源氏物語』に出会ったとき. In 陣野英則 & 横溝博 武蔵野書院. 1: 161-178.

Journal Article

Other (Print)

  • Clements, Rebekah & Coates, John (2015). The John Coates Collection (A catalogue of Arita porcelain).

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