Elaine Gerbert studies modern Japanese literature. She received her B.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley, her M.A. in Far Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in modern Japanese literature from Yale University. She studied on a Fulbright Hays doctoral research fellowship at Keio University in Tokyo and held a Fulbright Lecturer Award at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul. She has taught at the University of Kansas since l990 and is the former director of the Center for East Asian Studies.
Her publications on the Japanese writer Uno Koji and on Japanese national readers were awarded the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission Prize for Translation and the George Z. Bereday Award for Excellence in Scholarship, respectively. She has written on the phenomenon of play (asobi) in Japanese culture from several perspectives, including literature and Shinto ritual. In 2004-05, she held an NEH fellowship to study the intersections between visual and literary culture in the Taisho period.