Associate Professor and Chair, 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).
Assistant Professor, History Department
Clinton Godart’s research concerns the intellectual history of modern Japan, and he is particularly interested in the hybrid zones where science, religion, and philosophy meet, and stand in tension. His previous research involved the history of Buddhism in the nineteenth century, especially the way Buddhists engaged with Western philosophy, and how Japanese intellectuals reacted to foreign categories of knowledge. He has also written on the development of philosophy of biology in Japan. Godart is currently working on a book manuscript, provisionally titled "Darwin and Japan's Modernity: Evolutionary Theory in Japanese Intellectual Life." This work explores the introduction, reception, and the manifold uses of, and debates on, evolutionary theory in Japan, by biologists, philosophers, ideologues, Buddhists, Christians, socialists, and anarchists, from the 1860's until the postwar period. In addition, he is making the first steps for two projects: firstly, the history of the relations between religion and science in modern Japan, and secondly, the intellectual biography and influence of Ishiwara Kanji (1889-1949), an influential army general and Buddhist thinker, which involves the broader issues of the Asia-Pacific War, the U.S. occupation of Japan, and the theory of utopianism.
Associate Professor, 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.
Gordon L. MacDonald Chair in History, History Department
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.
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.
Associate Professor and Director, School of Religion
Duncan Williams works on the social and cultural history of Japanese and Japanese American religions. He focuses on the early modern and modern periods of Japanese history with particular interests in Buddhism and the modernization process. He also works on Japanese religions in diaspora, especially in the Americas. His thematic research interests include Buddhism and nature/environment, Buddhism and Japanese bathing culture, American Buddhist acculturation processes, and theories of hybridity in religion and culture. He is most recently working on the role of faith in the incarceration experience of Japanese Americans during world war two and a policy book on the future of Japan. He is author of The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Sôtô Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan (Princeton University Press, 2004), and is currently working on a monograph titled Camp Dharma: Buddhism and the World War Two Incarceration of Japanese Americans (forthcoming, University of California Press).
Associated Faculty Members
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.
East Asian Studies Center Associate-in-Research
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
Adjunct Assistant Professor, 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.