Professor Eric Cazdyn has established himself as one of the leading scholars of aesthetics and politics, a reputation secured by his two monographs, two co-authored books, edited collections, and numerous articles. He has also maintained an active speaking schedule, delivering invited and keynote lectures on dozens of occasions at major colloquia and conferences across the globe. Professor Cazdyn's research has also been recognized by SSHRC, which awarded him a standard research grant (2006-10), the Japan Foundation, which granted him a fellowship in 2010, and the Mellon Foundation, from whom he received a prestigious New Directions Grant (2012-15).
Professor Cazdyn is, in addition, a widely respected educator. Not only has he regularly received very high evaluations from students in his courses, but, as evidenced by his appointment this coming term as Visiting Professor in the Urban Humanities Institute at UCLA, he is sought after to lead workshops that combine research and pedagogy.
Professor Cazdyn received his BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and MA and PhD degrees from the University of California, San Diego. Under the guidance of Masao Miyoshi, one of the most important figures in Japan Studies, and Fredric Jameson, a world-renowned literary critic and theorist of contemporary culture, he was trained in comparative literature with an emphasis on modern Japan, cultural theory, and film. After receiving his PhD he taught for a year at the University of Oregon, and then in 1999 he came to the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor. He was advanced to Associate Professor in 2003 and promoted to full Professor in 2011.
His first book, The Flash of Capital: Film and Geopolitics in Japan (2003), reflects the diverse emphases of his PhD training. Breaking new ground in a field dominated by semi-biographical studies of certain directors (especially Kurosawa and Ozu) or introductions to certain film genres (the samurai film, for instance), his was the first study that rigorously analyzed the relation between Japanese film art and political economy. The book asked how, for example, aesthetic categories inform in the making and consuming (and desire for) capitalist commodities.
In the nine years since that first book, Professor Cazdyn's intellectual trajectory has taken him in new directions. The Flash of Capital secured his reputation as a scholar of Japanese film: it was-and still is-regarded as one of the key works in the study of Japanese cinema. In his subsequent publications, Professor Cazdyn has turned his attention to problems of disaster, globalization, and illness, with Disastrous Consequences (an edited volume, 2007), After Globalization (2012; co-authored with Imre Szeman), and The Already Dead (2012).
Professor Cazdyn's most recent works continues to explore these ties between culture, politics, and Japan. Nothing: Three Inquiries into Buddhism and Critical Theory (co-authored with Timothy Morton and Marcus Boon) examines the relation between the category of "enlightenment" in Zen Buddhism, the category of "cure" in psychoanalysis, and that of "revolution" in Marxism. And in "The Worldly Clinic," a project associated with the Mellon New Directions Grant he received in 2012, he analyzes the psychoanalytic clinic in order to speculate on future aesthetic, political and pedagogical possibilities.
Throughout his published work, and in his speaking and teaching as well, Professor Cazdyn has brought questions associated with Japan and area studies into conversation with global discourses about capitalism, politics, and culture. As a body, his work constitutes a critical intervention of immense value and importance to the field.