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Kristopher Kersey
Assistant Professor of Art History

Kristopher Kersey’s research focuses on the intersecting histories of Japanese art, material culture, and design. The majority of his work concerns Japan’s Heian period (794–1192 CE), as well as its various recursions, returns, and modern appropriations. Topics of particular interest include Japanese manuscript culture, aesthetics and art historiography, text-script-image dynamics, Buddhist painting and sculpture, narrative theory, and the logic of assemblage.

His first book project, The Image of Japan, explores the figure of the written word in Japanese art history, with particular attention paid to the slippages between the conceptual taxonomies of modern art history and those operative in premodern Japan. The book focuses on early medieval Japanese manuscripts—primarily in handscroll format—that were often marginalized by the Western rubric of “text and image.” His second book project moves beyond the medieval to trace the globalization and appropriation of the Japanese folding fan from early modernity to the present. Other avenues of research concern gender performativity, postwar photography, medical illustration, and the history of design.

Professor Kersey will be on leave for the 2018–2019 academic year. 


 “In Defiance of Collage: Assembling Modernity ca. 1112 CE,” Archives of Asian Art 68, no. 1 (February 2018): 1–34.

 “The Mediation of Death and the Temporality of the Scroll (Japan, c.1200 CE).” In The Continuous Page: Scrolls and Scrolling from Papyrus to Hypertext. Courtauld Books Online. Forthcoming 2018.


2014–2015 Anne van Biema Fellowship (Postdoctoral), Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

2012–2014 Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship (Predoctoral), Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC


Lecture Courses

Art & Asia—the Construction of East, South, and Modern Asian Art

The Graphic Arts of Japan—Trace, Incision, Inscription, Imprint, and Photograph

Gender, Art, Japan—The Depiction and Inscription of Gender in the Japanese Visual Archive

Contemporary Art—East Asia and Beyond: Methods, Markets, and Controversy


Advanced Seminar: The Materiality of the Image in Japanese Art

Art Historical Theories and Methods

Senior Thesis Seminar Sequence

Desire: A History of Collecting (co-taught with Prof. Calvillo)

How to Change the World: Design (first-year seminar, proposed)

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley 2014
A.B., Princeton University 2004
Contact Information
225 Visual Arts Building
(804) 289-8986
Areas of Expertise
Japanese art, aesthetics, and material culture