WFU Conference – Speakers and Discussants

Nicholas Albertson (Ph.D., University of Chicago) teaches Japanese literature, film, and language at Wake Forest University. Before coming to Wake Forest in 2014, he taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago and at Smith College. His research into Romantic poetry of the Meiji period (1868-1912) examines mystifications of the poet’s access to “nature,” fissures between realistic and intertextual landscapes, and ironic supernatural symbolism that celebrates transgression.
Lisa Blee joined Wake Forest University in 2009 as assistant professor of American History. Blee specializes in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Indigenous and settler histories of the Pacific Northwest, with emphasis on historical memory. Her first book, Framing Chief Leschi: Narratives and the Politics of Historical Justice (University of North Carolina, 2014), considers how an event intended to right a historic wrong could, paradoxically, reaffirm the limits on indigenous power in the U.S. She has also published several articles concerning the role of contested historical narratives in commemorations, world’s fairs, and courtrooms. Blee’s current research concerns the way in which Indian statuary, as public art, promoted narratives of peaceful colonialism across the U.S. in the Twentieth Century.
Daniel Botsman is Professor of History and former Chair of the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University. He is the author of Punishment and Power in the Making of Modern Japan (Princeton University Press, 2005) and is currently at work on a study of freedom and liberation in nineteenth century Japan.
Elizabeth Chew is Betsy Main Babcock Director of the Curatorial and Education Division at Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Wake Forest University. Prior to arriving at Reynolda in February 2013, she was Curator at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for 13 years. She is an art historian by training; her research interests are relationships between landscape, architecture, and material culture and race, gender, and family politics. She has taught art history at the university level for twenty years and lectured and published widely on topics ranging from female art and architectural patronage to American portraiture to the gendered politics of space.
Maren Ehlers is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She received her Ph.D. in East Asian Studies from Princeton University in 2011, and an M.A. in Japanese Studies from the University of Hamburg in Germany. Her main research interest is the social history of early modern Japan. She is currently working on a microhistory of domain government and poor relief in the eighteenth and nineteenth century that is based on an in-depth analysis of the Tokugawa status order. Her most recent publication is the article “Benevolence, Charity, and Duty: Famine Relief and Domain Society During the Tenmei Famine” in Monumenta Nipponica (2014).
Paul D. Escott is Reynolds Professor of History at Wake Forest University. He earned his B.A. degree cum laude from Harvard College and his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Duke University. He taught at UNC Charlotte before coming to Wake Forest, where he served for nine years as Dean of the College. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, has received fellowships from the Whitney Young, Jr., Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and twice won an award for the best non-fiction book published by a resident of North Carolina. His recent books are Uncommonly Savage: Civil War and Remembrance in Spain and the United States and Lincoln’s Dilemma: Blair, Sumner, and the Republican Struggle over Racism and Equality in the Civil War Era.
Chelsea Foxwell is an assistant professor in the Department of Art History, University of Chicago, where she is also a collaborator in the Digital Scrolling Paintings Project, She is especially interested in the changing relationships between audiences, artworks, and the public sphere in the eighteenth through early twentieth centuries. Her publications include “Merciful Mother Kannon and its Audiences,” The Art Bulletin XCII:4 (December 2010), Awash in Color: French and Japanese Prints (2012, with Anne Leonard) and Making Modern Japanese Painting: Kano Hōgai and the Search for Images (forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in 2015). She is currently at work on a new project about copying, citation, originality, and the circulation of images in early modern and modern Japan.
Harald Fuess is a Professor of Cultural Economic History at Heidelberg University Center for Trancultural studies/Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” where is speaker for the Graduate Programs in Transcultural Studies. Grown-up in France and Germany, he studied History and East Asian Studies at the universities of Princeton (B.A.), Tokyo and Harvard (M.A., Ph.D.). He then worked at the German Institute of Japanese Studies in Tokyo, the Boston Consulting Group, Sophia University in Japan and Sheffield University in Great Britain. His international visiting professorships and fellowships included invitations to Tokyo University, Osaka University, Oxford University, the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, and Dartmouth University. His publications cover various topics in the social, economic, political and legal history of modern Japan and global economic history more broadly in a geographical scope. Fuess also served as elected President of the European Association of Japanese Studies.
A historian of early modern and modern Japan, Robert Hellyer served on the faculty of the University of Tokyo, taught at Allegheny College, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard before coming to Wake Forest in 2005. His previous research on Edo period foreign relations was presented in several journal articles and book chapters, as well as in a monograph, Defining Engagement: Japan and Global Contexts, 1640-1868 (Harvard University Asia Center, 2009). He has also published on the socio-economic integration of the Pacific Ocean in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He is currently writing a trans-Pacific history of Japan’s export of green tea to the United States from circa 1850 to 1950, a project for which he received Smithsonian, Japan Foundation, and NEH fellowships to support research in Japan and the United States.
David L. Howell is Professor of Japanese History and Interim Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. He is also Editor of the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. Howell earned his B.A. at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo and his Ph.D. in History at Princeton University. Howell has written two books and numerous articles, including, most recently, “Foreign Encounters and Informal Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan” (Journal of Japanese Studies, 2014) and “Fecal Matters: Prolegomenon to a History of Shit in Japan” (in Japan at Nature’s Edge: The Environmental Context of a Global Power, University of Hawai’i Press, 2013). He is particularly interested in the ways changing political and economic institutions affected the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people in nineteenth-century Japan. His current projects include a history of human waste and garbage in the cities of early modern and modern Japan.
Hoya Tōru, Professor at the Historiographical Institute, University of Tokyo, is a military and diplomatic historian whose research focuses on the bakumatsu and Meiji Restoration periods. He has been on the faculty of the Historiographical Institute since 1987 and is the author of numerous books including Bakumatsu Ishin to jōhō [Information Flows during the Bakumatsu and Meiji Restoration Periods] (Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2001); Boshin sensō [The Boshin War] (Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2007); and Bakumatsu Nihon to taigai sensō no kiki: Shimonoseki Sensō no butaiura [Bakumatsu Japan on the Precipice of a Foreign War: The Backstage Story of the Shimonoseki War] (Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2010).
Tobie Meyer-Fong is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department at Johns Hopkins. She is also editor of the journal Late Imperial China. Her most recent book, What Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in Nineteenth-Century China, deals with the devastating emotional, cultural, and social impact of the Taiping rebellion.
Robert “Skipp” Orr was confirmed by the Senate as United States Executive Director with rank of Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in September 2010. In July 2013 he became Dean of the Board of the ADB. From 2007-2010 he was Chairman of the Board of the Panasonic Foundation and concurrently Vice Chair of the National Association of Japan-America Societies, a member of the Board of Trustees of J.F. Obirin University and a member of the Board of the East-West Center Foundation.

From January 2002 until March 2007 Dr Orr was President of Boeing Japan holding that position during the development of the most successfully selling airplane in history, the 787 Dreamliner, 35% of which is made in Japan. Prior to joining Boeing, Ambassador Orr was Vice President and Director of European Affairs for Motorola based in Brussels. And before that he held various senior level posts with Motorola in Japan culminating as Vice President of Government Relations. In that capacity he successfully led the negotiations that opened up the cellular phone market in Japan.

In addition to the corporate world, the Ambassador has also spent many years in academia and the United States Government. Between 1985 and 1993 he was a professor of Political Science at Temple University in Japan with two years off to run the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies and the Stanford Center for Technology and Innovation at the Stanford Japan Center in Kyoto. His book The Emergence of Japan’s Foreign Aid Power published by Columbia University Press won the 1991 Ohira Prize for best book on the Asia Pacific.

Dr. Orr’s career began in 1976 when he served for two years as Legislative Assistant to Congressman Paul G. Rogers (D-FL) a 12 term member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Between 1978 and 1981 he served on the House Foreign Affairs Asia Subcommittee staff seconded from the Select Committee on Narcotics. In 1981 he was appointed as Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator of Asia in the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Ambassador holds a B.A. in History, cum laude, from Florida Atlantic University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Tokyo University. He speaks German and Japanese fluently. He is a member of the Council of American Ambassadors.

Saeyoung Park is a historian who teaches at Davidson College and works primarily on Korea and China (1600-present). Her book projects reflect her interests in how various constellations of war—War and Memory (Politics of the Past), the War on Drugs (Dangerous Delights)—transform what she calls political subjecthood, or subject/citizen-state relations.
Simon Partner is a social historian whose emphasis is on understanding the radical social transformations of nineteenth and twentieth century Japan, through the stories of ordinary people. He is the author of Assembled in Japan: Electrical Goods and the Making of the Japanese Consumer (1999); Toshie: A Story of Rural Life in Twentieth Century Japan (2004); The Mayor of Aihara: A Japanese Villager and His Community, 1865-1925 (2009) and Bull City Survivor: Standing up to a Hard Life in a Southern City (2013). Partner is a Professor of History at Duke University.
David Phillips (Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania) teaches courses in Interdisciplinary Humanities and is a Core Faculty Member for the Program in Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship as well as in the Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest. His current projects include the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded Humanities for the Environment research project, for which he is a P.I., the Community Mapping Project with Wake Forest’s Humanities Institute, the Future of Food project at University of Arizona’s Institute for Humanities Research, and the Digital Humanities Network of faculty at Wake Forest. His recent co-authored and co-edited text, Creativity and Entrepreneurship: Changing Currents in Education and Public Life, was released by Edward Elgar Press in 2013. Former chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Wake Forest, Phillips is an active researcher in Japanese urban, planning history, and architectural studies. One of his current text projects is a book about the influence of Japanese sukiya style architecture on the formation of the International Style of architecture in the early 20th century.
Dr. Michael Callaghan Pisapia is Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University. Michael graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in Political and Social Thought, where he studied Japanese language for a year, and from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a Ph.D. in political science. He teaches courses on American politics and political theory. In 2014, he won a Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for scholarship on women and politics, in support of his research on public education and the role of women in American political development. In 2009, Michael presented a paper at an American Studies conference at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, where he met Dr. Takakazu Yamagishi, an American politics professor. In 2013, they co-authored American Politics from American and Japanese Perspectives, a textbook published in Japan. Michael lives in Winston-Salem with his wife Page, and their four children, Sophia, Darian, Amalia and Elliot.
Morgan Pitelka teaches premodern Japanese history and culture at UNC Chapel Hill, where he is also Director of the Carolina Asia Center. His first research project focused on the Raku ceramic tradition and its connection to the politics of tea culture in early modern Japan. His book Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan (Hawaii, 2005) examined how this tradition was constructed, perpetuated, and packaged over time, and how sixteenth-century practices and products continue to inform debates about national identity in Japan today. His second research project focused on the role of material culture—particularly swords, Chinese art, and falcons—in the life and career of the warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). Spectacular Accumulation: Material Culture, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Samurai Sociability will be published by the University of Hawaii Press in 2015. His next research project examines politics and daily life in medieval castle towns using archaeological remains and documentary evidence.
Brian Platt is Associate Professor of History and is currently serving as Department Chair at George Mason University. He is a specialist in Japanese history, with a research focus on the 18th and 19th centuries. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998, and is the author of Burning and Building: Schooling and State Formation in Japan, 1750-1890 (Harvard, 2004). He is the recipient of grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, the National Academy of Education, and the Association for Asian Studies. His current research project deals with historical commemoration and autobiography in 18th and 19th century Japan. He has taught various courses on Japanese and Asian history, as well as comparative courses on such issues as modernization, memory, gender, and national identity.
Mark Ravina
Professor at Emory University, (A.B., Columbia University, 1983; M.A., Stanford University, 1988; Ph.D., 1991)
Mark’s specialty is Japanese history, especially eighteenth and nineteenth-century politics, but his broader methodological interest is in the transnational and international dimension of state-building. He’s currently completing a history of the Meiji Restoration for Oxford University Press entitled Japan’s Nineteenth Century Revolution: A Transnational History of the Meiji Restoration. He recently completed a 24 part lecture series for The Teaching Company on Japanese cultural history. In 2004 he published a biography of Saigō Takamori entitled The Last Samurai (John Wiley & Sons). Saigō was the inspiration for the character Katsumoto in the Tom Cruise film, also entitled The Last Samurai. He had begun working on the book without any knowledge of the movie, but the Warner Brothers film sparked a surge in general interest on Saigō and he appeared as a “guest expert” on CNN and on two History Channel programs: “History vs. Hollywood” and “The Samurai.”
Gennifer Weisenfeld, Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University, received her Ph.D. from Princeton University (1997). Her field of research is modern and contemporary Japanese art history, design, and visual culture. Her first book Mavo: Japanese Artists and the Avant-Garde, 1905-1931 (University of California Press, 2002) addresses the relationship between high art and mass culture in the aesthetic politics of the avant-garde in 1920s Japan. And her most recent book Imaging Disaster: Tokyo and the Visual Culture of Japan’s Great Earthquake of 1923 (University of California Press, 2012, Japanese edition Seidosha, 2014) examines how visual culture has mediated the historical understanding of Japan’s worst national disaster of the twentieth century. She is currently working on a new book on the history of Japanese advertising and commercial design titled The Fine Art of Persuasion: Corporate Advertising Design, Nation, and Empire in Modern Japan.
Noell Wilson was born and raised in South Carolina and graduated from Wake Forest University in 1994 with a BA in History and then spent a year teaching English in Japan with the JET program before receiving a Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University in 2004. She is currently Croft Associate Professor of Japanese History and International Studies at the University of Mississippi. Her book, Defensive Positions: The Politics of Maritime Defense in Tokugawa Japan, is forthcoming from the Harvard University Asia Center in 2015. Ongoing research explores encounters between Americans and Japanese engaged in mid nineteenth century whaling in the North Pacific.