Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Department of History of Art and Architecture
Melissa McCormick received her B.A. in art history and Japanese from the University of Michigan (1990), and her Ph.D. in Art History from Princeton University (2000).
Professor McCormick’s book Tosa Mitsunobu and the Small Scroll in Medieval Japan (2009) theorized the relationship of scale and format to pictorial representation and literary genre by examining what she proposed as a new genre of handscroll in the medieval period. Her interdisciplinary approach focuses on analyses of texts and images combined with original historical research into the circumstances viewers and readers. Ongoing research into The Tale of Genji has resulted in close to a dozen publications in English and Japanese, from articles examining images of the author Murasaki Shikibu, to studies of the tale’s reception by female readers and artists, warrior patrons and court painters, and medieval Buddhist commentators. Current Genji projects include a book on the 1510 Genji album in the Harvard Art Museums, The Tale of Genji: A Visual Companion (Princeton, 2018), and an international loan exhibition with an accompanying catalogue (spring 2019).
She has taught at Harvard since 2005, and her courses include Introduction to Japanese Art (HAA18k); undergraduate seminars on The Tale of Genji in Word and Image, Gender and Japanese Art, and advanced seminars on Japanese Picture Scrolls, the art of The Lotus Sutra, Modern Japanese Art, and Museum Research in Japanese Art.