Christopher L. Hill earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University in 1999. Before graduate school he worked as a print and wire-service reporter in Tokyo, New York City, and the “North Country” of New York State. He is a native of Boulder, Colorado, and majored in English at Stanford University. He is Associate Professor of Japanese literature at the University of Michigan. Hill’s CV
In his graduate studies, Hill’s initial interest in transatlantic modernism turned toward modernity per se and broadened geographically to include East Asia. Japan in the Meiji era (1868-1912) offered a host of examples to complicate—and sometimes contradict—phenomenologies of modernity derived from the history of Western Europe and North America. The fact that modernity was not only a social situation, but also an idea characteristic of that situation—the idea of the modern being a phenomenon of modernity—pushed him to train in intellectual history as well as literary analysis. Given the increasing economic and political integration of the world in the nineteenth and twentieth century, accompanied by ever more rapid, multidirectional circulation of ideas, Hill’s work quickly became transnational as well as comparative. The result was his first book, National History and the World of Nations, and ongoing projects on literary naturalism and the intellectual culture of the postwar period.
Before joining the University of Michigan Hill taught Japanese literature, comparative literature, and Japanese cultural history at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and the University of California at Berkeley. From 2012 to 2014 he was Associate Director of the European Institute at Columbia.
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