My teaching focuses on the history of modern Japan, primarily in the 19th and 20th centuries. At Harvard, I am fortunate to be able to teach at every level from general education to courses for concentrators in History and East Asian Studies, to seminars for advanced graduate students. In all my courses I seek to place Japan’s history in a broader global and comparative context. My textbook, A Modern History of Japan, was based on the lectures developed over the years in courses taught at Duke and at Harvard. I also enjoy teaching for the wider audience of students of all ages and places who can take the Harvard Extension School’s version of my general education course through the distance learning program.
In fall of 2012, together with my colleague in the History department, Erez Manela, I have introduced a new course for the United States in the World category of the new program in General Education. We began preparing the course through a graduate seminar in general education in fall of 2011. Drawing on, and greatly expanding, a longstanding interest in the American occupation of postwar Japan, the course is titled Forced to be Free: Americans as Occupiers and Nation-Builders. The history of America in the 20th and 21st century world is marked by a number of significant military occupations and nation-building projects in foreign lands. These have been contradictory enterprises, carrying ideals of freedom and self-determination “offered” by force or by fiat. The course assesses the meanings and legacies of these projects. It examines the ideas, strategies, policies, and outcomes of occupations ranging from the Philippines early on, to Japan, Germany, and Korea in mid-century, to Vietnam and, most recently, Afghanistan and Iraq. The course focuses on American activities and ideas but also examines the responses of the occupied.
Information about currently scheduled courses, as well as syllabi for some past courses and a bibliography of works in English on modern Japan, are available from the links to the left on this page.