Abé Markus Nornes

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SAC Nornes

Professor of Asian Cinema

202 S. Thayer, Suite 6111
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608

Office Location(s): 5123 STB
Office Hours: On leave 2014-2015
Phone: 734.647.2093
Fax: 734.936.1846
View Curriculum Vitae

  • Affiliation(s)
    • Professor of Asian Cinema, Department of Screen Arts and Cultures
    • Professor of Asian Cinema, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
    • Professor, School of Art & Design
    • Center for Japanese Studies
    • Center for Chinese Studies
    • Nam Center for Korean Studies
  • Fields of Study
    • Japanese Cinema
    • Asian Cinema
    • Documentary
    • Moving Image Translation
  • About

    Markus Nornes is a scholar of Asian cinema, and specializes in Japanese studies, documentary and translation theory. He arrived at University of Michigan in 1996. Much of his work has explored the history of Japanese documentary and its theoretical implications. He has also written about nonfiction production in other parts of Asia. Nornes has also published widely on the topic of screen translation.

    Throughout his graduate work and into his career at University of Michigan, Nornes worked as a programmer on the international film festival circuit. As a Coordinator at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, he organized major retrospectives with complex, hefty catalogs. They include Nichibei Eigasen: Media Wars—Then & Now (commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, 1991), In Our Own Eyes: First Nations’ Film and Video Festival (1993), and Den’ei Nanahenge: Seven Transfigurations in Electric Shadows (for the cinema centenary, 1995). At UM, he regularly programs events by visiting filmmakers from China, Japan and Korea.

    Nornes’ research centers on the cinemas of Asia, particularly the non-fiction form. His first book is a history of the first half-century of documentary in Japan. It examines the emergence of documentary, its exploitation by left-wing movements, and ultimately its cooptation by the government in waging war across Asia. He followed this up with a monograph following the life trajectory of director Ogawa Shinsuke. Ogawa left PR filmmaking in the 1960s to organize a powerful collective of young activist artists, leaving an indelible impact on both Japanese and Asian documentary. As with his work on Chinese documentary, Nornes is foremost concerned with the political and ethical complexities of producing documentary at times of social tension or political crisis.

    Nornes also specializes in film translation. He has translated subtitles for Japanese films and written a monograph on the subject. In the course of uncovering the history of film translation from the silent to the digital eras, he delivers a polemic that calls for “abusive translation.” This is an approach to subtitling, dubbing and interpretation that accounts for the material qualities of language, celebrating moments of untranslatability and advocating for innovative translations that tamper with convention. He has brought this stance to his own subtitling of Japanese films.

    Currently, Professor Nornes is working on a book about East Asian cinema and calligraphy. He also has projects on the pink film, Donald Richie, and a major multi-volume collection of Japanese film theory in translation.

    Recent Courses Taught

  • Education
    • Ph.D., Cinema/Television and Critical Studies, University of Southern California, 1996
    • M.A., Cinema/Television and Critical Studies, University of Southern California, 1990
    • B.A., Cinema Studies, St. Olaf College, 1986
  • Awards
    • Faculty Research Grant for Taiwan Studies, Ministry of Education, Taiwan (2011)
    • Visiting Professorship, Fudan University, Shanghai, PRC (2010)
    • Edwin O. Reischauer Visiting Professor of Japanese studies, Harvard University (2008-2009)
    • Japan Foundation Research Fellow, Tokyo, Japan (2004-2005)
    • Fulbright Research Fellow, Tokyo, Japan (1999-2000)
  • Grants
    • Korea Foundation Research Grant (2000)
    • Excellence in Education Award, University of Michigan (1999)
  • Presentations
    • “The Reception of the Japanese New Wave in American Film Criticism,” Meiji Gakuin Daigaku, Japan (2012)
    • “Translating Calligraphy,” Keynote Speech, Art in Translation Conference, University of Iceland (2012)
    • “Yamagata—Asia—Europe: The International Film Festival Short-Circuit,” Kinema Club XI, Vienna (2011)
  • Works-in-Progress
    • Calligraphy in East Asian cinema
    • The history of film theory in Japanese cinema
    • Japanese pink film
  • Selected Publications:
  • Books
  • Articles