Faculty Members

Core Faculty Members

David Bialock

Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures

David Bialock’s research focuses on classical Japanese literature, especially the body of medieval literature related to The Tale of the Heike and its variants. Other interests include Japanese poetry from classical waka to the haiku tradition, and the interactions between East Asian poetic practices and various twentieth century modernisms from imagism to objectivism, etc. At present, he is working on several projects: a study of musical ideas in Japanese literature and ritual; and a collection of essays in ecocriticism that applies interdisciplinary perspectives to the study of literature, ritual, and the environment. In his teaching teaching, Bialock brings Japanese literature into dialog with world literature, and vice-versa. Recent teaching includes courses in Japanese fiction and film and a course on Japanese and East Asian literature and the environment. He is author of Eccentric Spaces, Hidden Histories: Narrative, Ritual, and Royal Authority from The Chronicles of Japan to The Tale of the Heike (Stanford University Press, 2007).

E-mail: bialock@usc.edu

Lori Meeks

Associate Professor and Chair, School of Religion

Lori Meeks’ research interests are in the social, cultural, and intellectual histories of Japanese Buddhism. Much of her work has focused, in particular, on clarifying the roles of women as consumers and practitioners of Buddhism in the Heian and Kamakura periods (roughly ninth through early fourteenth centuries). Her research has also attempted to shed light on the ways in which gender is handled in Buddhist texts, on the roles that Buddhist texts played in the dissemination of gendered ideology, and on popular responses to doctrinal discussions of sex and gender. Other interests include the social history of monasticism and the role of the arts in Buddhist practice. She is author of a Hokkeji and the Reemergence of Female Monastic Orders in Premodern Japan (University of Hawai’i Press, 2010), and is currently working on a manuscript titled In the Shadows of the Sacred: Women and Popular Buddhism in Premodern Japan, and another titled How Buddhist Views of the Female Body Entered Popular Discourse: Tracing Ideological Change in Late Medieval and Early Modern Japan.

E-mail: meeks@usc.edu

Joan R. Piggott

Gordon L. MacDonald Chair in History and Professor, History and East Asian Languages and Cultures 

A premier Japan historian, Joan R. Piggott is an expert on premodern Japan and East Asia. Her specialties include the development of kingship, church-state relations, land tenure, and family in Japan. Her seminal study, The Emergence of Japanese Kingship (Stanford University Press, 2007), combined written records with archaeological evidence to illuminate the reigns of seven Japanese monarchs between the third and eighth centuries. While at Cornell she organized a series of workshops on reading and translating kambun (Sino-Japanese), and those workshops are continuing at USC.

E-mail: joanrp@usc.edu

Satoko Shimazaki

Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures

Satoko Shimazaki’s research focuses on early modern Japanese theater and popular literature; the modern history of kabuki; gender representation on the kabuki stage; and the interaction of performance, print, and text. She has been particularly interested in the role theater played in early modern Japan in the construction of urban communities and a shared sense of history, as well as in the ways in which media—from fleeting visual ephemera to seemingly timeless typeset scripts—give form to theatrical experience and its reception. Her current book project uses the ubiquitous early-nineteenth-century trope of the female ghost to illuminate the gradually shifting socio-cultural role Edo kabuki played from its emergence in the seventeenth century to its reinvention as a national theater in the twentieth century. She is also working on two other projects: one that deals with female-role actors and the construction of gender and the body through theatrical lineages and print media; and another that considers how literary representation during the early nineteenth century was mediated by knowledge of the theater. For the past five years, she has also been affiliated as a guest researcher with the Waseda University, Tsubouchi Memorial Theater Museum.

E-mail: satoko.shimazaki@usc.edu

Jason P. Webb

Associate Professor (Teaching), Comparative Literature

E-mail: jasonweb@usc.edu

Duncan Williams

Director, USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture/Associate Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures

Duncan Ryuken Williams was born in Tokyo, Japan to a Japanese mother and British father. After growing up in Japan and England until age 17, he moved to the U.S. to attend college (Reed College) and graduate school (Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in Religion). Williams is currently an Associate Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Director of the USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture. Previously, he held the Shinjo Ito Distinguished Chair of Japanese Buddhism at University of California at Berkeley and served as the Director of Berkeley's Center for Japanese Studies for four years. He has also been ordained since 1993 as a Buddhist priest in the Soto Zen tradition and served as the Buddhist chaplain at Harvard University from 1994-96. He is the author of a monograph entitled The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Sôtô Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan (Princeton University Press, 2005) and co-editor of five volumes including Issei Buddhism in the Americas (U-Illinois Press, 2010), American Buddhism (Routledge/Curzon Press, 1998), andBuddhism and Ecology (Harvard University Press, 1997). He has also translated four books from Japanese into English including Putting Buddhism to Work: A New Theory of Economics and Business Management (Kodansha, 1997). He is currently completing a monograph titled, Camp Dharma: Buddhism and the Japanese American Incarceration During World War Two (forthcoming, University of California Press), an edited volume titled Hapa Japan: Constructing Global Mixed Race and Mixed Roots Japanese Identities and Representations (USC Ito Center/Kaya Press, 2016), and writing a manifesto for Japan in the 21st-century titled Hybrid Japan (in Japanese). He has previously received research grants from the American Academy of Religion, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, the Japan Foundation, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Numata Foundation/Society for the Promotion of Buddhism. In 2011, Williams received a commendation from the Japanese government for deepening the mutual understanding between the peoples of Japan and California.

E-mail: duncanwi@usc.edu

Associated Faculty Members

Vinayak Bharne

Adjunct Associate Professor of Urbanism, Sol Price School of Public Policy

Vinayak Bharne’s research focuses on contemporary urbanism in Asia – specifically the urbanisms of sacred territories and cities, the agency of religion in urban transformation, the urbanities of poverty, and the nexus of public policy and water stress. A former Asia-Pacific Development Commission Traveling Scholar to Japan, he is currently directing The Complete Ise Jingu, an incremental enhancement plan for the surroundings of Japan’s most revered Shinto shrine; and The Banaras Initiative, a multidisciplinary strategic planning framework for the future of one of India’s holiest Hindu cities situated along the Ganga River. He is the author of Zen Spaces & Neon Places: Reflections of Japanese Architecture and Urbanism; co-author of Rediscovering the Hindu Temple: The Sacred Architecture & Urbanism of India; editor of the The Emerging Asian City: Concomitant Urbanities & Urbanism; and a contributing editor of Kyoto Journal.

E-mail: bharne@usc.edu


Janet Goodwin

Associate-in-Research, East Asian Studies Center

Janet Goodwin comes to USC from University of California Los Angeles, where she is a visiting professor of History and Asian Languages and Cultures. Her specialty is on pre-modern Japan with focuses on Japanese history and civilization, the history of Japanese women, the history of outcasts, vagabonds and other marginals in Japanese society. She is author of Selling Songs and Smiles:  Sexual Entertainment in Heian and Kamakura Japan (University of Hawaii Press, 2007), and Alms and Vagabonds: Temples and Popular Patronage in Medieval Japan (University of Hawaii Press, 1994).

E-mail: gjan@usc.edu

Velina Hasu Houston

Professor and Associate Dean of the Faculty, School of Dramatic Arts

Velina Hasu Houston's most popular work is her critically acclaimed play Tea. It and many of her other works have been presented internationally, garnering more than three-dozen writing awards. Her other critically acclaimed plays include Asa Ga Kimashita, Kokoro, The Matsuyama Mirror, Hula Heart, Ikebana (Living Flowers), Shedding the Tiger, and Waiting for Tadashi. She has been recognized three times by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, twice been selected as a Rockefeller Foundation playwriting fellow, and was a recipient of a Japan Foundation fellowship and a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Foundation grant. She was chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Remy Martin New Vision Award from Sidney Poitier and the American Film Institute. Houston is also a published poet and essayist; and writes for film, radio and television as well. A specialist in Pan-Asian American feminist dramatic literature, she edited the anthologies The Politics of Life: Four Plays by Asian American Women and But Still, Like Air, I'll Rise: New Asian American Plays. She has lectured at institutions nationwide and taught screenwriting at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Theatre, Film and Television. Houston teaches courses in Playwriting, Theatre History and Literature.

E-mail: greentea@usc.edu

Saori N. Katada

Associate Professor, International Relations

Saori N. Katada is the author of a book, Banking on Stability: Japan and the Cross-Pacific Dynamics of International Financial Crisis Management (University of Michigan Press, 2001), which was awarded Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Book Award in 2002. She also has three co-edited books: Global Governance: Germany and Japan in International System (Ashgate, 2004), Cross Regional Trade Agreements: Understanding Permeated Regionalism in East Asia (Springer, 2008), and Competitive Regionalism: FTA Diffusion in the Pacific Rim (Palgrave Macmillan 2009). She has written numerous articles on international political economy including topics such as regional integration, foreign aid policy, financial politics and free trade agreements. Her current research focuses on the trade, financial and monetary cooperation in East Asia, and the impact of the global financial crisis on Japanese financial politics and regional integration efforts.

E-mail: skatada@usc.edu

Lon Yuki Kurashige

Associate Professor, History and American Studies and Ethnicity

Lon Kurashige studies racial ideologies, politics of identity, emigration/immigration, historiography, cultural enactments, and social reproduction, particularly as they pertain to Asians in the United States. He is the author of Japanese American Celebration and Conflict: A History of Ethnic Identity and Festival, 1934-1990 (University of California Press, 2002), and co-author of Major Problems in Asian American History (Houghton Mifflin, 2002).

E-mail: kurashig@usc.edu

Akira Mizuta Lippit

Professor, Comparative Literature and East Asian Languages and Cultures; Chair, Division of Critical Studies, School of Cinematic Arts

Akira Lippit's teaching and research focus on four primary areas: the history and theory of cinema, world literature and critical theory, Japanese film and culture, and visual cultural studies. Lippit's published work reflects these areas and includes two books, Atomic Light (Shadow Optics) (University of Minnesota Press, 2005) and Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife (University of Minnesota Press, 2000). In addition to his two completed books, Lippit is presently finishing a book-length study on contemporary experimental film and video, and has begun research for a book on contemporary Japanese cinema, which looks at the relationship of late-twentieth and early twenty-first century Japanese culture to the concept of the world.

E-mail: lippit@usc.edu

Miya Elise Mizuta (Lippit)

Adjunct Assistant Professor (Teaching), East Asian Languages and Cultures and Art History

Miya Mizuta specializes in modern Japanese art and literature and serves as managing editor of the Review of Japanese Culture and Society (Josai University). Her book manuscript, Aesthetic Life: The Artistic Discourse of Beauty in Modern Japan, an interdisciplinary study of the figure of the beautiful woman (bijin) in the Meiji period (1868-1912), is under review for publication. Her current book project, From Shadow to Illumination: Art, Literature, and Electric Light in Modern Japan, attempts a material history of literary and artistic works that thematize light and investigates the manner in which electric light in particular transformed the aesthetics of classical Japanese culture.

E-mail: mizuta@usc.edu