The Reischauer Institute Postdoctoral Fellowships in Japanese Studies provide recent graduates with the opportunity to continue their doctoral research at Harvard and produce publishable work from their dissertations. The fellows participate in the Japanese studies community at Harvard, work with faculty and students, and present their research in the Japan Forum lecture series at some point during their stay.
The RIJS Postdoctoral Fellows for the 2022-23 academic year are as follows:
EMILY COLE (Ph.D. Modern Japanese History, University of Oregon, 2022)
Dr. Emily Cole received her Ph.D. from the Department of History at the University of Oregon in 2022. She specializes in modern Japanese history and is particularly interested in postwar Japanese photography.
Her dissertation, titled “Re-Imaging Japan: Photographing a “New Cultural Nation” under the Allied Occupation, 1945-1952,” examines the role played by Japanese photographers in visualizing a new Japanese cultural identity following the Asia-Pacific War and during the Occupation.
Dr. Cole demonstrates that photographers, who were eager to renounce the militarism and ultra-nationalism that had previously pervaded Japan, endeavored to re-image Japan as a “new cultural nation” (shin bunka kokka) by photographing Japanese people in moments of daily life, utilizing trends and techniques inspired by American photojournalism and European human-interest photography that they encountered in photography magazines. This dissertation also investigates the photographs of American military and civilian personnel and photojournalists who lived in Japan during the Occupation. Examining the images that Japanese and American photographers took of each other shows the complicated ways that each perceived the other. Japanese photographers represented the Occupation both positively and critically. Most American photographers, on the other hand, tended to celebrate the Occupation's role in helping to democratize Japan.
At the Reischauer Institute, Dr. Cole plans to turn her dissertation into a manuscript. She will also work on a series of articles that address photographs of Japan taken by Allied personnel and American photo journalists and the Allied Occupation’s place in Japan.
EVAN KOIKE (Ph.D. Anthropology, University of British Columbia, 2022)
Dr. Evan T. Koike is a cultural anthropologist specializing in gender issues, family life, and generational shifts in twenty-first-century Japan. He received his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in 2022. His other research interests include volunteerism and educational systems in East Asia.
Titled “Raising Smiling Fathers: The Construction of Masculinity in Japanese Nonprofit Organizations That Promote Engaged Parenting,” Dr. Koike’s dissertation examines the effectiveness of Japanese nonprofit organizations, such as Fathering Japan, that encourage fathers to incorporate child care, domestic labor, and empathetic behaviors into their gender performances. These nonprofit organizations and some community-based parenting groups assert that Japanese fathers will enjoy more fulfilling lives and lessen the burden that child care and housework place on mothers if these men move away from the archetype of the Japanese father as an emotionally distant primary provider. Such messaging positions fathers of young children as essential contributors to the nation’s survival: their sharing in family life will make couples view child rearing as feasible and enjoyable, thereby helping to raise the nation’s low birthrate. Dr. Koike’s research found that entrenched ideological and structural barriers within Japanese social institutions and company work culture nevertheless undermine these efforts by nonprofit groups focused on parenting and run counter to the current desires and well-being of many Japanese families.
At the Reischauer Institute, Dr. Koike will prepare his dissertation for publication as a book manuscript. He also plans to update his analyses with information about how nonprofit groups have engaged parents during the pandemic period and about whether Japanese gender roles and familial relations have shifted during the COVID-19 era.
KYLE PETERS (Ph.D. East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Philosophy), University of Chicago, 2021)
Dr. Kyle Peters earned his Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in August 2021 and is currently a Reischauer Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. He will begin an appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Japanese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in August 2023. His research focuses on Japanese cultural criticism and media studies—especially modern Japanese philosophy, aesthetics, literature, and print culture as it intersects with Critical Theory.
His current book project, Kyoto School and Totality, combines the Critical Theory concept of totality with media studies to reconceptualize Kyoto School philosophy—widely considered the most important intellectual movement in modern Japan. Instead of treating these philosophers in their supposed connection to Zen Buddhism, he argues that Kyoto School members developed a “self-formative” theory of society qua totality in line with the pressing social issues of global modernity. In particular, he foregrounds the Kyoto School in its connection with modern print culture, showing the ways in which certain members theorized the autotelic organization of society in terms of intersecting social levels—groups, collectives, publics, and class—and in doing so, carved out a space for author collectives and reader publics to revise and spur social development from within.
During his year at the Reischauer Institute, Dr. Peters will finish his work on the above book manuscript and make progress on his second project: a manuscript and companion translation project that reconsiders the global lineage of Critical Theory through the work of Nakai Masakazu, an understudied modern Japanese philosopher and media theorist.
EMILY SIMPSON (Ph.D. East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies (Religion), University of California at Santa Barbara, 2019)
Dr. Emily B. Simpson received her Ph.D. from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Prior to her appointment at the Reischauer Institute, she held a three-year lectureship in Japanese religions at Dartmouth College. Dr. Simpson specializes in late medieval and early modern shrine-temple origin stories (jisha engi) and the role of these narratives in the structure and patterns of divinization and in religious discourses on gender.
Her dissertation, “Crafting a Goddess: Divinization, Womanhood and Genre in Narratives of Empress Jingū,” examines the legend of Empress Jingū, a third century reigning empress and shamanic figure said to have conquered the Korean peninsula with the aid of several central kami (Shinto deities) while pregnant with the future Emperor Ōjin, later identified as the deity Hachiman. Taking a long durée approach, Simpson investigates key shifts in this important narrative across several genres, starting from the earliest mytho-historical chronicles, the Kojiki (712) and Nihon shoki (720) to late medieval and early modern origin stories across several major and peripheral cults in which Jingū was divinized as a kami herself (Hachiman, Sumiyoshi, Awashima). As Empress Jingū was enshrined in a wide variety of contexts, Dr. Simpson utilizes this deity to demonstrate the various textual techniques through which human figures were divinized and deities grouped together. Furthermore, she argues that Jingū’s status as a pregnant mother became the subject of increasing focus in the late medieval period, following the growth of the Hachiman cult as well as shifts in the family structure that emphasized mothers and the birth of male heirs. Accordingly, Empress Jingū came to be considered a deity of safe childbirth and became the subject of regional women’s cults.
At the Reischauer Institute, Dr. Simpson plans to complete turning her dissertation into a book that further focuses on adaptations of Jingū’s legend in the late medieval and early modern periods and further explores connections between the Jingū narrative and medical discourses on pregnancy and childbirth. Her second book will focus on structural divinization in several major Shinto cults.
DANICA TRUSCOTT (Ph.D. Japanese Literary and Cultural Studies, University of California at Los Angeles, 2022)
Dr. Danica Truscott is a scholar of premodern Japanese literature specializing in early and classical works (710 - 1185). She received her Ph.D. in 2022 from the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Her dissertation, “Assembling the Man’yō Woman: Paratext and Persona in the Poetry of Ōtomo no Sakanoue,” is a study of the most prolific female poet in Japan’s oldest anthology of vernacular poetry, the Man’yōshū. Despite Sakanoue’s significant presence in the anthology, she has for the most part been neglected in discussions about premodern Japanese literature and the history of women’s writing. Following recent trends in Man’yō studies that advocate for reading the anthology as a text, the study uses concepts such as Michel Foucault’s “author function,” and Gérard Genette’s paratext in order to demonstrate how the compiling hand uses the figure of Sakanoue in three separate volumes as a symbol of the Ōtomo lineage’s poetic prowess as well as their devotion to the imperial throne after a political setback.
During her time at the Reischauer Institute, Dr. Truscott will expand the focus of her project to the rest of the Ōtomo lineage in converting the dissertation into a book manuscript. She will also begin preliminary research on a second project that analyzes descriptions of longing in classical Japanese poetry using frameworks derived from queer theory.