Professor of History and Asian Studies
101 38 College Street
Asian Studies Program
7500 College Station
Brunswick, ME 04011-8470
THOMAS D. CONLAN (Professor, joint appointment in Asian Studies). Having studied Japanese history at the University of Michigan (B.A. 1989), Kyoto University, and Stanford University (Ph.D., 1998), he teaches courses that span the range of Japanese history and has received Fulbright, NEH, and Japan Foundation fellowships for his research. Tom's scholarship focuses medieval Japanese history, and in particular the nature of warfare and the role of Buddhism and the state. He has published four monographs: In Little Need of Divine Intervention (Cornell, 2001); State of War: The Violent Order of Fourteenth Century Japan (Michigan, 2003) and Weapons and Fighting Techniques of the Samurai Warrior (Amber Press 2008) and From Sovereign to Symbol: An Age of Ritual Determinism in Fourteenth Century Japan (Oxford University Press, 2011).
From Sovereign to Symbol: An Age of Ritual Determinism in Fourteenth Century Japan, Oxford University Press, October 2011
Weapons & Fighting Techniques of the Samurai Warrior. Amber Press 2008
In Little Need of Divine Intervention: Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan. Cornell East Asia Series, August 2001 (Currently in third printing).
Myth, Memory and The Mongol Invasions of Japan. Mino et. al., eds. Reinventing the Past: Archaism and Antiquarianism in East Asian Art and Visual Culture (Chicago: The Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago and Art Media Resources, Inc., forthcoming)
Warfare in Japan, 1200-1550. Reuven Amitai, Anne Curry and David A. Graff, eds. The Cambridge History of War vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).
Shiryō shōkai: Yoshida Kanemigi ga utsushita Ōuchi keizu. (The Ōuchi genealogy copied by Yoshida Kanemigi). Yamaguchi kenshi kenkyū 21 (March 2013), pp. 65-70.
Ema : une famille samouraï. Les Grands Dossiers des sciences Humaines, “La guerre, des origines à nos jours,” hors-série Histoire n° 1 (Novembre-Décembre 2012), pp. 52-55.
The Two Paths of Writing and Warring in Medieval Japan (PDF). Taiwan Journal of East Asian Studies 8.1 (June 2011), pp. 85-127.
Instruments of Change: Organizational Technology and the Consolidation of Regional Power in Japan 1333-1600. John Ferejohn and Frances Rosenbluth eds., War and State Building in Medieval Japan (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010), pp. 124-58.
Traces of the Past: Documents, Literacy and Liturgy in Medieval Japan. Gordon Berger, Andrew Goble, Lorraine Harrington, G. Cameron Hurst III, eds., Currents in Medieval Japanese History: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey P. Mass (University of Southern California East Asian Studies Center: Figueroa Press, 2009), pp. 19-50.
Thicker than Blood: The Social and Political Significance of Wet Nurses in Japan, 950-1330. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 65.1 (June 2005), pp. 159-205.
The Nature of Warfare in Fourteenth-Century Japan: The Record of Nomoto Tomoyuki [ jstor]. The Journal of Japanese Studies 25.2. (Summer 1999), pp. 299-330.
On the Nature of Warfare in the Fourteenth Century (Nanbokuchōki kassen no ichikōsatsu), in Ōyama sensei taikan kinen ronshūkai, ed., Nihon shakai no shiteki kozo kodai chūsei (Kyoto: Shibunkaku, 1997), pp. 417-439.
Largesse and the Limits of Loyalty in the Fourteenth Century, in Mass, ed., The Origins of Japan's Medieval World (Stanford University Press, 1997), pp. 39-64.
|Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan||Scrolls of the Heiji Disturbance|
Karofsky Faculty Encore Lecture: The History You Do Not Know: My Journey to Medieval Japan.
Professor Conlan describes his journey to medieval Japan, explores the wonder of the past, and urges those who study history to follow the evidence — especially when it upends cherished assumptions.
Listen to this podcast | Download from iTunes U | RSS 2.0
Japanese Scrolls Project
The scrolls illustrate the valor and travails of a Japanese warrior named Takezaki Suenaga, who fought during the Mongol invasions of 1274 and 1281. Suenaga commissioned the original scroll to chronicle his deeds and to give praise to his commanders, and the gods, for his success in both campaigns. This podcast contains interviews with Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies Tom Conlan and Multimedia Designer Kevin Travers discussing the development of the scrolls project.
View the site or View this enhanced podcast in iTunes
David Lurie. Realms of Literacy: Early Japan and the History of Writing (East Asian Monographs, number 335. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2011). American Historical Review 117.4 (October 2012), p. 1203.
Lori Meeks. Hokkeji and the Reemergence of Female Monastic Orders in Premodern Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2010. The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 70, issue 3 (August, 2011), pp. 844-46. (PDF)
Judith Fröhlich. Rulers, Peasants and the Use of the Written Word in Medieval Japan (Peter Lang). Monumenta Nipponica 63.1 (Spring 2008), pp. 161-66.
Mikael S. Adolphson. The Teeth and Claws of the Buddha: Monastic Warriors and Sohei in Japanese History (Honolulu: Univeristy of Hawai’i Press, 2007). Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 68.1 (PDF) (June 2008), pp. 182-89.
Mikael Adolphson, Edward Kamens, and Stacie Matsumoto, eds. Heian Japan: Centers and Peripheries. (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007). The Journal of Japanese Studies 34.2 (Summer 2008), pp. 467-71.
Samurai, Arms, and Armor
April 24, 2013
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
From Ad Hoc to Ongoing: The Mongol Invasions and the Institutionalization of Authority of Japan, February 22, 2013
Presented at Conference, Mongols on the Margins, UCLA
Ritual Mimesis and Performative Sovereignty in Fourteenth-Century Japan
University of Southern California, February 21, 2013
Kings in All But Name: Japan in the Age of Ōuchi Dominion 1408-1551
Yale University Council of East Asian Studies October 4, 2012
New Directions in the Study of Pre-Modern Japan, October 23, 2010
Modern Japan Workshop Roundtable Discussion, Harvard University.
Sovereign Authority and the Medieval Japanese State
Presented at “Text and Context: New Directions in Medieval Japanese Literary and Historical Studies” Bowdoin College, May 9, 2009
Judicial Function of Violence in Japan (1200-1598)
Presented at the “Faith, Law and Violence in Medieval Japan” panel at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Atlanta, April 5, 2008
Visualizing the Past Through the Mongol Scrolls
Presented at the symposium “Reinventing the Past: Antiquarianism in East Asian Art and Visual Culture” Franke Institute University of Chicago, November 4, 2006
On War and Judicial Violence in Medieval Japan
Presented at the Symposium War and Politics in Medieval Japan, KyØto, March 16-18, 2006
Myth, Memory and the Mongol Invasions of Japan
March 1, 2006 (Emory University), September 22, 2006 (Brandeis College) March 18, 2008 (University of Pennsylvania)
Adapting to Endemic War: Fourteenth Century Improvements in Arms and Armor
Presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, San Diego March 7, 2004
Courtly Archivists of Precedent and Political Authority in Japan 850-1350.
Presented at a Workshop on Experts and Expertise in Pre- and Early Modern Societies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. October 6, 2001
From Sovereign to Symbol: A Liturgy of Legitimation in Fourteenth Century Japan.
Presented at Reconstructing Medieval Japan: A Symposium in Honor of Jeffrey P. Mass Stanford University May 5, 2001
The Culture of Force and Farce: Fourteenth Century Japanese Warfare.
Presented at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University and The Donald Keene Institute, Columbia University. September 24, 1999 and March 20, 2000
The Role of Women and Weapons in Medieval Japanese Warfare.
Presented at a symposium of comparative medieval history at the University of San Francisco. April 14, 2000
In Little Need of Divine Intervention.
Presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, San Diego. March 11, 2000
Innovation or Application? The Role of Technology in War.
Presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Boston. March 13, 1999
Largesse and the Limits of Loyalty: Lordly Obligations in the Age of Two Courts.
Presented at a symposium on Fourteenth Century Japan, Hertford College, Oxford University, England. September 2, 1994
Appeared on the National Geographic specials Warrior Graveyard: Samurai Back from the Dead (aired March 23, 2012), Samurai: Behind the Blade (aired December 2, 2003) and the History Channel special Samurai (televised December 8, 2003). In addition, was interviewed by Newsday for an article about the Mongol Invasions of Japan (December 17, 2002) and appeared on the radio program "These Days" station KBBS, San Diego, December 4, 2003. Have also been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the LA Times, and the Sacramento Bee concerning the warrior culture of Japan.
Curated “Japan and the World,” A Becker Gallery Exhibit at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, October 6-November 8, 2009
Chair, Asian Studies Program, Bowdoin College January 2004 - 2007
Joined a Japan Foundation round table discussion, "On the past, present, and future of Japanese Studies" on July 8, 2002. Published in Kokusai Koryu no. 97 (10.2002), pp. 68-79.
I have had the opportunity to serve as an honors advisor for many, and this can be a capstone for study in either the Asian Studies Program or the History Department. Here is a list of the honors projects that I have supervised as the primary academic advisor.
Willem Reeves Bogardus."From Demo to the Diet: Political Participation among Postwar Japanese Labor Unions" (Honors thesis, Asian Studies Program, 2013).
Charles Prechtl Legg. "Shogun: Ideals of Warrior Rule in Japan" (Honors thesis, Department of History, 2007). Recipient of the Bland Prize
David Edwin Samuel Sokolow. "The Global Impact of the Russo-Japanese War" (Honors thesis, Department of History, 2007).
Eric James Davis. "Realism, Liberalism, and Pan-Asianism: The Evolution of the Japanese Empire (1905-1945)" (Honors thesis, Asian Studies Program, 2007).
Daniel Maier Bensen. "Taiko: The Formation and Professionalization of a Japanese Performance Art" (Honors thesis, Asian Studies Program, 2006).
Sarah Mari Damerville. "Imposition and Adaptation: The Japanese Confrontation and Manipulation of European Notions of the "East," 1860-1905" (Honors thesis, Asian Studies Program, 2006).
Christina Emiko Goto. "International Trade and the Economic Development of Japan 1858-1899" (Honors thesis, Asian Studies Program, 2004).
Nathanial Anderson. "Channeling the Flood: The Disseminatin of European Scientific Knowledge in the "Closed Country" of Tokugawa Japan. (Honors thesis, Department of History, 2000). Recipient of the Bland Prize