Dr Lawrence Marceau is Senior Lecturer in Japanese at the University of Auckland, in the Faculty of Arts, School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics. Born in the United States, he first visited Japan as a high-school exchange student and studied in Japan during his university years at Colgate University. After working in Washington, DC, for a year following graduation, he felt a strong urge to return to Japan, and participated in the Monbusho English Fellow Programme, a pre-cursor to the current JET Programme, working as Assistant to the English Language Adviser at the Board of Education in Fukui Prefecture. After this experience he went on to research Japanese literature, studying for his Master’s at Kyoto University and and PhD at Harvard University. Following this he taught at universities in the United States before joining the faculty of the University of Auckland in his current post in 2005.
Dr Marceau is an authority on Japanese literature from the Edo to the Meiji period, and, as well as teaching undergraduates at the University of Auckland, he also supervises postgraduate student research. Speaking about his work, Dr Marceau says he aims to teach by respecting students’ ideas and supporting them in what they want to do. Although he is a specialist in Japanese literature, there are many things that he learns from his students. He believes that the University of Auckland is very attractive because it has an environment which nurtures specialists who are responsible for the next generation. In order to cultivate the ability to think for oneself he feels that, rather than short-sightedly studying only those subjects which are thought to be preferable for finding work, it is very important to study more deeply the humanities subjects, which tend to be considered less important recently, such as literature, philosophy, and thought.
In addition to his expertise in Japanese literature from the Edo era to the early-Meiji era, Dr Marceau is researching how stories are disseminated and is interested in the relationship between writer and reader, focusing on early modern Japanese publishing. He frequently presents his research at conferences in Japan, New Zealand and the US. He is currently researching Isopo monogatari, a 400-year-old translation of Aesop’s Fables. Dr Marceau says that he hopes to further study the Isopo monogatari narrative picture scrolls, a very valuable historical document that is largely unknown, even among the Japanese. Dr Marceau’s goal is to inform as many people as possible about this work and to continue research into Japanese literature in the future.