Japanese History Courses

Pacific Passages: Japan in the Early Modern World, 1500-1800

In 1635, the shogun of Japan closed off the country so no foreigner could enter, nor could any Japanese leave, on penalty of death. Save for a few ports, Japan retreated from a world becoming rapidly connected through commerce and colonialism. Or so it seemed. Situates Japan in the Pacific as the flow of ideas, people, and goods between continents increased. How did Japan interact with this early modern world? How did it imagine itself in these turbulent times? Focusing on networks—be it commodity flows of silver and seals or migratory patterns of pirates and priests—lectures emphasize the significance of the Pacific in shaping Japan as it emerged out of the medieval age.

The Japanese Empire and World War II

Seminar. Charts the sudden rise and demise of the Japanese empire in the making of modern East Asia. Once stretching from the Mongolian steppe to the South Seas mandate, the Japanese empire continues to evoke controversy to this day. Discussions call attention to competing imperial visions, which challenged the coherence of the project as a whole. Primary sources introduce the lived experience of various individuals—emperors and coolies alike—who both conquered and capitulated to the imperial regime. Topics covered include settler colonialism, independence movements, transnational labor, fascist ideology, environmental warfare, the conundrum of collaboration, and war trials.