Nornes, Abé Mark (Markus Nornes)

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Nornes, Abé Mark (Markus Nornes)


Education: St. Olaf College, B.A., 1986; University of Southern California, M.A., 1990, Ph.D., 1996. Hobbies and other interests: Skiing, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, show shoeing, and telemark skiing.


Office—Department of Screen Arts and Cultures, University of Michigan, 6525 Haven Hall, 505 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1045. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, editor, film historian, and educator. Colby College, Waterville, ME, lecturer, 1995; Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, lecturer, 1996; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, instructor, 1996-2007, professor, 2007—, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures associate chair, 2002-04, Center for Japanese Studies Press, director of publications, 2002-04. Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Japan, coordinator, 1990-96, 2002-05. Founder of the Kinema Club (a Web site devoted to Japanese cinema).


Recipient of research grants, including the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies Research Grant, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2006; Fulbright research fellow, Tokyo, Japan, 1999-2000; Korea Foundation Research Grant, 2000; Japan Foundation Research Fellow, Tokyo, 2004-05.


Media Wars, Then and Now: Pearl Harbor 50th Anniversary: Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival '91, October 7-10, Sojinsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1991.

(Editor, with Fukushima Yukio) The Japan/America Film Wars: World War II Propaganda and Its Cultural Contexts, Harwood Academic Publishers (Langhorne, PA), 1994.

Japanese Documentary Film: The Meiji Era through Hiroshima, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Forest of Pressure: Ogawa Shinsuke and Postwar Japanese Documentary, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Cinema Babel: Translating Global Cinema, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Contributor to books, including Hiroshima 50 Ans: Japon-Amerique, Memoires au Nucleaire, Editions Autrement (Paris, France), 1995; Hibakusha Cinema: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Nuclear Image in Japanese Film, edited by Mick Broderick, KPI (London, England), 1996; Eigazukuri to Mura e no Michi: Fukuda Katshuhiko no Shigoto, edited by Hatano Katsue, Fukuda Katsuhiko Film Library (Tokyo, Japan), 2000; Kamei Fumio 1908-1987, YIDFF (Yamagata, Japan), 2001; Identity Replays: Realism and Cinema, edited by Ivonne Margulies, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 2003; and Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts, edited by Julian Stringer and Alastair Phillips, Routledge (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Cinema Journal, Midnight Eye, Positions, Asian Studies Newsletter, Network, Journal of the International Institute, CinemaSpace, Montage, Film Journal, and Film Quarterly. Former associate editor of the International Journal in Documentary Studies. Also serves on editorial boards, including Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, Studies in Documentary, Film Quarterly, Mechademia, and Documentary Box.


Abé Mark Nornes is a writer, film historian, and educator at the University of Michigan. He is an instructor in Asian cinema and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television. As an educator and researcher, Nornes specializes in the diverse film and video of Japan, particularly Japanese documentary films. He is interested in the effects of digital technology on film criticism and scholarship. He teaches classes in a variety of subjects, including film theory, Asian cinema, the history of Japanese cinema, international film history, and Japanese popular culture, according to a biographer on the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Web site. An avid outdoorsman, Nornes regularly participates in skiing, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, show shoeing, and telemark skiing, the biographer reported.

Much of Nornes's writing focuses on Japanese documentary film. In Japanese Documentary Film: The Meiji Era through Hiroshima, Nornes examines documentaries made in Japan in the years prior to the World War II-era bombing of Hiroshima. He looks at a wide variety of nonfiction films and considers the contents and effect of several prewar Japanese film magazines. Nornes's "very intensive and extensive research has enabled him to situate the films within their economic, political, social and intellectual context; to make us understand the pressures under which they were made; and to invite us to question more than a few entrenched attitudes," commented Freda Frieberg in Senses of Cinema. In his extensive evaluation, "the first myth that Nornes debunks is the view that Japanese film criticism is neither interesting nor worthy of respect," Frieberg stated. He provides extensive documentation and analysis demonstrating that "very sophisticated debates on film issues were conducted and published in Japanese journals throughout the 1930s," Frieberg noted. He explores other subjects and uncovers considerable material in support of his conclusions, countering such arguments as the state of Japanese documentary and fiction film as separate and distinct categories, and the alleged suppression of Japanese film criticism from 1931 to 1945.

Nornes's book, Frieberg concluded, looks carefully at the neglect of nonwestern documentary film by western audiences. "With his passionate commitment and enthusiasm, his breadth of scholarship and close attention to Japanese records, writings and voices, Nornes has performed sterling service in the cause of remedying this neglect," she concluded.

Forest of Pressure: Ogawa Shinsuke and Postwar Japanese Documentary contains Nornes's examination of the life, career, and work of Japanese filmmaker Ogawa Shinsuke; the filmmaking collective he formed after World War II, called Ogawa Productions; and the various problems and pressures that afflicted the collective, from political to interpersonal, aesthetic to economic. Nornes seeks to put Shinsuke and his collective into historical context, noted a reviewer in Reference & Research Book News, but in doing so he also recounts personal stories, exaggerated tales, and first-person narratives.



Film Quarterly, winter, 2006, Scott Nygren, review of Japanese Documentary Film: The Meiji Era through Hiroshima, p. 58.

Journal of Film and Video, summer, 2004, Ernst E. Star, review of Japanese Documentary Film, p. 57.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2007, review of Forest of Pressure: Ogawa Shinsuke and Postwar Japanese Documentary.


Cinemaspace, (February 4, 2008), biography of Abé Mark Nornes.

Senses of Cinema, (February 4, 2004), Freda Frieberg, review of Japanese Documentary Film.

University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Web site, (February 4, 2008), biography of Abé Mark Nornes.

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Nornes, Abé Mark (Markus Nornes)

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