The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

A Conversation with Author Jennifer Cody Epstein ’88 and Tim Van Compernolle, professor of Asian languages and civilizations

“I wanted to make it clear that evil happens on both sides of a conflict, and that no matter who ends up being the victor or who ends up having the moral high ground, everybody risks being dehumanized in a conflict like this.”


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Timothy J. Van Compernolle

Timothy J. Van Compernolle, Associate Professor of Japanese, has been at Amherst since 2007.  He received his Ph.D. in Japanese literature from the University of Michigan in 2001.  Prior to Amherst, he held a teaching position at the College of William and Mary and a postdoctoral fellowship at Oberlin College.  He teaches courses on Japanese literature, film, popular culture, and, with colleagues Samuel C. Morse and Trent Maxey, the course Re-inventing Tokyo.  He is the author of several articles and the book The Uses of Memory: The Critique of Modernity in the Fiction of Higuchi Ichiyō (Harvard University Asia Center, 2006).  His second monograph, Struggling Upward: Worldly Success and the Japanese Novel, is currently being reviewed for publication.  He is a two-time recipient of the Fulbright research grant and has been a graduate research fellow at the University of Tokyo and a visiting scholar at Dōshisha, Keiō, and Waseda Universities in Japan.