This class sees images and objects as the crystallization of large historical events. A survey of modern Japanese History, it uses individual objects and images to explore major themes of the seventeenth through twentieth centuries: imperialism, war, violence, and atrocity; cultural change and construction of hierarchies; racism; evolving norms of gender and sexuality; changing patterns of consumption and inequality; and destruction of the environment. Each of the course’s lectures focuses on a single object—from maps and opium to tattoos and anime—to trace how images and objects play an important role in defining and creating the modern world. We will develop the skills necessary to reading images and objects like texts and will be thinking about museums and libraries as storehouses of certain of history in the form of the images and objects that they house. You will come away from this course being able to answer the questions: “What kinds of histories can images and objects tell?” and “Why does the way that museums and libraries display their objects matter?” History 271 will introduce you to the methods of historical inquiry, including primary-source analysis, library and research skills and public history.
Mondays 10:30-11:30, Wednesdays 1-pm-2pm, or by appointment
I am a historian of the material and visual culture of modern Japan. My work explores the ways Japan’s social, political and cultural transformations shape photographic culture and the mass press; state implementations of photography and uses of photography against the state; the gendering of photographic technology and industrial design; the values embedded into the materiality of images and objects; the politics of museum practices of collection and display; and the relationship between photography and protest of environmental degradation.
History of Visual and Material Culture
History of Technology
History of Gender and Sexuality