Professor Copeland's research and teaching interests include modern and contemporary women's writing in Japan, modern literature and material culture, and translation studies.
Rebecca Copeland received her PhD in Japanese Literature from Columbia University in 1986. Her dissertation concerned the writer Uno Chiyo (1897-1996). This study was subsequently published as The Sound of the Wind: The Life and Works of Uno Chiyo (University of Hawai'i Press, 1992.) Dr. Copeland's study of Meiji women writers, Lost Leaves: Women Writers of Meiji Japan was published by the University of Hawai'i Press in 2000 and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2001. The University of Hawai'i Press also published her edited volume Woman Critiqued: Translated Essays on Japanese Women's Writing in 2006. Copeland co-edited a collection of essays concerning the relationship between women writers and their fathers – both biological and cultural – with Dr. Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen of University of Michigan, The Father-Daughter Plot: Japanese Literary Women and the Law of the Father (University of Hawai'i Press, 2001) and a collection of translations, Modern Murasaki: Writing by Women of Meiji Japan with Dr. Melek Ortabasi of Simon Fraser University (Columbia University Press, 2006). More recently, Copeland collaborated with Dr. Laura Miller, the Ei’ichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Endowed Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, on Diva Nation: Female Icons from Japanese Cultural History (University of California Press, 2018). Grotesque, Copeland's translation of a Kirino Natsuo title, was published by Knopf in 2007. Her translation of Kirino’s Joshinki (The Goddess Chronicles) was published by Cannongate in 2012 and won the 2014-15 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature.