About the Project

The Project for Premodern Japan Studies of the University of Southern California, Dornsife College of Arts and Letters was established in 2003 to nurture and coordinate the study of premodern Japan at USC. Under Director Joan R. Piggott, Gordon L. MacDonald Professor of History, the mission of the Project is to build a premier program and a thriving community of scholars working in the premodern Japan field at USC. The priorities of the Project include the recruitment of leading faculty and graduate students in the field to multiple disciplines across the university. The Project serves as a center for the organization of the Summer Kambun Workshop; the development of a world-class premodern Japan research collection in USC’s East Asian Library; the coordination of a vibrant visitor series that includes speakers, workshops, and conferences; and a new Monograph Series under the USC Dornsife East Asia Studies Center imprint. Through the Graduate College and History Department the Project also provides fellowships for graduate study in premodern Japanese History.

About the Programs

The Project for Premodern Japan Studies sponsors several research groups, symposia, and a Visitor Scholar Series throughout the year. These activities bring together scholars from USC and regional institutions, as well as individuals from the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The scholars invited by the Visitor Series, many from Japan, typically spend three or more days on campus and interact with faculty and students in a variety of settings. The Series has benefited from co-sponsorships with many programs and departments at USC.

About the Director

Joan R. Piggott came to USC as Gordon L. MacDonald Professor of History in 2003. Previously, she was Associate Professor of History at Cornell University.

Her focus is Pre-1600 Japan, with research interests including the monarchy and the regency, church-state relations, urbanism, family and gender, and the intersections of history and literature. Her book, The Emergence of Japanese Kingship (Stanford University Press, 1997), was winner of the 1998 Hiromi Arisawa Award. Other publications include Women in Three Premodern Confucian Societies; Capital and Countryside in Japan, 300-1180; Teishinkoki: What Did a Heian Regent Do? (co-edited with Prof. Sanae Yoshida); and Dictionary of Sources of Classical Japan (co-edited with an international and interdisciplinary team, including Ivo Smits, Ineke Van Put, Michel Vieillard-Baron, and Charlotte von Verschuer). She is currently working on a book concerning the capital (Heian) and its residents in the mid-eleventh century, based on her translation of the New Monkey Music (Shinsarugakuki) by Fujiwara Akihira (?-1066). She is a member of the Obe Estate Research Group and the Ritsuryo and Gender Research Group, both of which are at work on annotated translation projects.

In 2018, Joan Piggott and Janet Goodwin’s edited volume on shōen, Land, Power and the Sacred: The Estate System in Medieval Japan was published with the University of Hawai’i Press.

She is Director of the Project for Premodern Japan Studies at USC, and co-teaches the summer Kambun Workshop.

The Kambun Workshop

The USC Summer Kambun Workshop is an intensive language training program in reading and translating premodern texts written in Sino-Japanese (Kambun). The Workshop brings together graduate students, young faculty, and other scholars from the U.S. and abroad for full-day, collaborative sessions led by faculty specialists from Japan and the U.S. The language of the Workshop is Japanese, and each Workshop focuses on its own theme or historical period. Participants learn to read Sino-Japanese materials with greater fluency, to develop their research and bibliographical skills, and to becomes acquainted with peers in the field of premodern Japanese historical studies. Contact: joanrp@usc.edu