Alex Watson
  • Joined WSI in May 2016
Alex Watson

Alex Watson is Associate Professor in Comparative Literature and Cultural Theory at the Graduate School of Languages and Cultures at Nagoya University, Japan. He was formerly Assistant Professor at the Department of English Literature and Language, Japan Women’s University, Tokyo.

Before coming to Japan, he completed a DPhil. in English and Related Literature at the University of York, and worked as a researcher at the University of Edinburgh and a lecturer at the Universities of Lincoln and Huddersfield and Leeds Metropolitan University. He has also taught at the University of Tokyo and Tsuda College, Tokyo and volunteered for a Roma school in Albania (2011), earthquake recovery teams in Fukushima (2011) and Joso (2015) and the British MP Norman Baker (2001).

His first book, "Romantic Marginality: Nation and Empire on the Borders of the Page" (Pickering and Chatto, 2012), examines the annotation of British Romantic-era writers such as William Wordsworth, Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott. Although, as ordinary readers, we tend to find footnotes a nuisance, in the hands of these writers, annotation became a crucial location in which they could provoke enemies, call politicians to account and disseminate information about foreign cultures. Examining such margins not only draws our attention to neglected aspects of texts frequently deleted by later editors, but also asks us to reconsider our understanding of the printed book in our current age of hypertext and globalization.

Subsequent scholarly articles have addressed a variety of topics: from the science-fiction writer J. G. Ballard’s preoccupation with images of ruin; to the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore’s obsession with the English poet John Keats; the French theorist Roland Barthes’ use of the Zen Buddhist concept of "satori"; and the Scottish writer J. G. Lockhart’s account of the rise of capitalism in eighteenth-century Scotland, "Adam Blair" (1822). He is currently completing a book charting the Post-War history of Britain via ten exceptional British films and co-editing a collection of scholarly essays examining the complex cultural legacy of British Romanticism in India, China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

As a contributor to the Wall Street Journal International, he is interested in documenting the fascinating and bewildering experience of living in Tokyo and in writing pieces that develop (and hopefully combine) his interests in Japanese art and ideas, Romanticism, British Cinema and continental philosophy.

Articles by Alex Watson