Karen Brazell, Goldwin Smith Graduate Professor of Japanese Literature and Theater and Director of the Global Performing Arts Consortium, passed away January 18, 2012, after a brief hospitalization. Karen’s inimitable esprit was well conveyed in her elegant and witty translation, The Confessions of Lady Nijô (Stanford University Press, 1973), which won the National Book Award. Her brilliant, innovative work had a transformative impact on Japanese Theater Studies. Her Nô as Performance, co-authored with Monica Bethe (Cornell East Asia Series, 1978), introduced the perspective of performance studies to what had been a predominantly textually oriented field. She subsequently edited widely adopted anthologies: Twelve Plays of the Nô and Kyôgen Theaters (Cornell East Asia Series, 1988) and Traditional Japanese Theater (Columbia University Press, 1999). Equally ground-breaking was her conceptualization of GLOPAC as a multilingual digital archive for global performance traditions,launched when such endeavors were in their infancy. Throughout her intensely creative scholarly career, Karen also provided visionary institutional leadership for Cornell’s Asian Studies Department and East Asia Program. She founded the Japanese Studies doctoral program, and also the well-regarded Cornell East Asia Series of publications. Both the department and program owe much to her peerless savvy as an institution-builder. But most of all, Karen will be missed by her colleagues, former students, and friends, for her compassion, wisdom, and unfailing playfulness.
A memorial service will be convened at Cornell University Sunday May 6th, 2012 3pm at the Andrew Dickson White House.