Miriam Wattles

Miriam Wattles
Professor Emeritus


Early Modern and Modern Japanese Visual Culture: illustrated books and print culture, ukiyo-e woodblock prints, painting, calligraphy.


B.A. Earlham College
Ph.D. Institute of Fine Arts, New York University


Miriam Wattles is engaged with grasping cultural transmission. She has worked on the making of an artist’s legend through various media during the Edo period (The Life and Afterlives of Hanabusa Itchô, Artist-Rebel of Edo, 2013) and, recently, on the internet-to-street movement of today’s memes (“Mocking Memes, Protest Memes, Mourning Memes: The Violence of Us & Them”). Her approach is inspired by theories of cultural memory, materiality, media, genre, and parody. Recently, she has been exploring shunga in relation to gender theory. Her next book traces the production and migration of individual copies of six books on manga, Toba-e, and giga originally published from 1720 to 1928, and complicates the present understanding of the history of Japanese comic forms; a related exhibition is planned for 2018. Her early research focused on Yokoyama Taikan and the rise of a Pan-Asian aesthetic that arose within nihonga in the late Meiji: "The 1909 Ryûtô and the Aesthetics of Affectivity," (Fall 1996). Before doing her graduate study at the Institute of Fine Arts (NYU), she lived for ten years in Japan immersed in the practice of calligraphy. In 2008, she founded Japanese Arts & Globalizations (JAG), an inter-campus research group in California. 


Undergraduate Courses

6DW   Arts of Japan and Korea
134A   Buddhist Art
134F   The Art of Japan
134G   Japanese Painting
134H   Ukiyo-e: Pictures of the Floating World
134I   Twentieth-Century Japanese Arts and Visual Culture
134J   Understanding Manga

135AA   Twentieth-century Japanese Visual Culture: High and Low
135BB   Parody in Japanese Visual Culture
186R   Figuring Celebrity in Ukiyo-e: Actors, Courtesans and Ordinary Types
186RW   Representations of Geisha: East and West
186RW   Visually Rendered: Japan in the 19th Century

Undergraduate and Graduate Seminars

Professor Wattles gives seminars that combine research with practical "hands-on" museum experience. She and students regularly organize ukiyo-e exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art:

2017   Patterns & Paste: Japanese Stencil Art, circa 1966
2010   Holkusai and his Impact on the World
2007   Japanese Art in Print: Read, Quoted, and Transformed
2005   From Geisha to Ghosts: Leading Ladies of Japanese Woodblock Prints
2005   Edo: The City and its Diversions
2004   Birds and Flowers: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Seymour and Shirley Lehrer Collection

Graduate Seminar

2012   Graphic Narratives: Feeling and Form
2007   Art in Print: Read, Quoted and Transformed