Interdisciplinary Edo

Towards an Integrated Approach to Learning and Teaching Early Modern Japan

Our first event was held on November 14-16, 2019 at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Below is the pre-event information for archive.



This workshop seeks to bring together emerging scholars to think across conventional disciplinary boundaries toward an integrated approach to Japan’s early modern period. By taking historical, religious, literary, art historical, and a variety of other perspectives into account, we hope to create a productive forum for a new, transdisciplinary conversation on political formation, social interaction, and cultural proliferation under the Great Peace of the Tokugawa regime.

Discussant and Keynote Speaker

Katsuya Hirano

UCLA (History)

Katsuya Hirano’s teaching and research explore the intersection between history and critical theory with a focus on questions of ideology, political economy, and subject/subjectivity. His first book, The Politics of Dialogic Imagination: Power and Popular Culture in Early Modern Japan, (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2013) outlines a general theory of the transformation in modes of subject-formation from the Tokugawa regime (1603-1868) to Japan’s first modern state, the early Meiji government, through an analysis centered on the regulation of popular culture. His current book project examines, through the prism of biopolitics, the correlative operations of capitalism and racism in the making of the Japanese empire. Taking the colonization of the Ainu people as the locus of analysis, the project explores the relation between the state’s drive for primitive accumulation (deterritorialization and reterritorialization of Ainu lands) and the construction and implementation of racial categories through academic (linguistic, economic, and anthropological) and legal discourse. The project ultimately seeks to deepen our understanding of the history of Ainu experiences through the perspectives of global histories of empire, capitalism, and colonialism.

Invited Faculty Presenters

William Hedberg

William Hedberg

Arizona State University (Literature)

William Hedberg’s primary research focus is the literature and culture of early modern Japan, and his current project centers on the reception of late imperial Chinese fiction during the Edo and Meiji periods (17th-20th c.). This project brings together long-standing interests in Sino-Japanese literary contact, the formation of national literatures, and the history of translation in East Asia. Hedberg’s first book, titled The Japanese Discovery of Chinese Fiction: The Water Margin and the Making of a National Canon is forthcoming from Columbia University Press (Fall, 2019). Other research interests include travel literature, Japanese Sinology, and the motif of utopia in early modern and modern East Asia. Hedberg’s research has been published in the Journal of Japanese Studies, Japan Forum, East Asian Publishing and Society, The International Journal of Asian Studies, and Sino-Japanese Studies.

Hilary Snow

Hilary Snow

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Art History)

Hilary K. Snow is a specialist in Asian visual culture who teaches courses on Asian studies, art history, and museums. Her research explores early modern patronage and the mingling of sacred and secular practices at Japanese religious institutions. She is particularly interested in the visual culture of early modern Japanese urban spaces and aesthetic amusements at religious institutions.

Conference Program

Please note – Friday is the public session, all other days are closed.

Wednesday, November 13th

5:00 – 8:00pmMeet and Greet for Early Arrivals (Optional)
Boca Tacos, 533 N. 4th Avenue, Tucson



Thursday, November 14th

ENR2–N595, Closed Session

9:00 – 9:30am

Coffee and Light Breakfast (in ENR2)


9:30 – 10:00am

Welcome Remarks and Group Introductions

10:00 – 11:30am

 Workshop Session One:

From Donation to Display: Votive Paintings at Itsukushima Shrine
Hilary Snow, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee


11:30 – 12:30pm

Lunch Break (provided for participants in ENR2)


12:30 – 2:00pm

Workshop Session Two:

A White-Crested Wave of Wasted Rice:
Famine Prevention and the Logistics of Altruism in Edo Japan
Joshua Schlachet, University of Arizona


2:00 – 2:30pm

Coffee Break (in ENR2)


2:30 – 4:00pm

Workshop Session Three:

Early Modern Japanese Literature is Dead!
Long Live Early Modern Japanese Literature!
William Hedberg, Arizona State University


6:30pm Group Welcome Dinner
La Cocina, 201 N. Court Avenue, Tucson

*Comments by Katsuya Hirano, UCLA and open discussion with all participants following each workshop session.


Public Sessions

Friday, November 15th

ENR2–S210, Public Session

9:30 – 10:00am

Coffee and Light Breakfast (in ENR2)


10:00 – 10:30amOpening Remarks
Albert Welter, Department Head, East Asian Studies
10:30 – 12:00pmSymposium Session One:
Narrative, Form, and Sino-Japanese Influence in Edo Print Culture


Knowledge, Rebound: The Shifting Meaning of Imagery from Chinese Huapu to Japanese Gafu
Mai Yamaguchi, Princeton University

Playing with Narrative in Late-Edo Period Popular Fiction
Jingyi Li, University of Arizona 

A Study of Hakuwa Sources in Eight Dogs
Shan Ren, University of Oregon

Discussant: William Hedberg, Arizona State University


12:00 – 12:30pm

Lunch Break (provided for attendees and participants in ENR2)


12:30 – 1:00pmKeynote Speaker: Katsuya Hirano, UCLA
The Predicament of Modernity and Histories of the Tokugawa ‘Enlightenment’:
On the Interpretations of Practical Learning
1:00 – 2:30pmSymposium Session Two:
Ideas, Images, Objects on the MoveAdaptation Across Borders


Simultaneity, Sexuality, and Morality: An Iconophiliac Approach to Visual Adaptations of the Jin Ping Mei in Early-Modern Japan
Zhaokun Xin, Arizona State University

Cinnamon and Snake-Oil: The Dutch Global Medicine Trade in Early Modern Japan
Claire Cooper, Princeton University

Zen Monks, Confucian Literati, and Chinese Émigrés: Lives and Identities of Itsunen Shoyu and Dokuryū Shōeki in Edo Japan
Jinhui Wu, University of Arizona

Discussant: Joshua Schlachet, University of Arizona


2:30 – 3:00pm

Coffee Break (in ENR2)


3:00 – 4:30pmSymposium Session Three:
Public Spaces / Private Lives in Edo Japan


Residence as Aesthetic Public Space: The Culture of the Literati Residence in 19th century Japan
Meiyan Wang, SOAS, University of London

Pilgrimage and Politics: The Role of Ōnoya ton’ya in the Monzenmachi of Dazaifu Tenmangū”
Alexander Evans, Kyushu University

Strangers and Fellows: Investigating the Posthumous Care of Non-Family Members in Edo Japan
Kristina Buhrman, Florida State University

Discussants: Hilary Snow, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee


4:30 – 4:45pmClosing Remarks
Takashi Miura, University of Arizona

Saturday, November 16th

ENR2–N595, Closed Session

8:30 – 9:00am

Coffee and Light Breakfast (in ENR2)


9:00 – 11:00pm

Planning and Reflection Session
Why Interdisciplinary Edo? Ideas for Future Collaboration

11:00 – 11:30pmFarewell Remarks, Formal End to Workshop
12:30 – 4:00pmTucson Sightseeing Tour (Optional; Lunch provided)
Saguaro National Park
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum



Takashi Miura

Takashi Miura

University of Arizona (Religion)

Takashi Miura’s research focuses on Japanese religions in the early modern and modern periods. He is the author of Agents of World Renewal: The Rise of Yonaoshi Gods in Japan (University of Hawaii Press, 2019). In this book, he examines the spread of the concept of “world renewal” (yonaoshi) in Japanese society from the late eighteenth to early twentieth centuries and highlights the rise of “yonaoshi gods,” a new category of divinities that emerged during this time period. He is currently working on his second book, tentatively titled Venerating the Righteous: Sakura Sogoro and Deified Peasants in Japan, in which he analyzes the practice of “peasant deification” in the early modern period and its impact on subsequent religious practices in Japan. At the University of Arizona, he teaches courses on Japanese religions and Buddhism. He received his B.A. (Religion & Japanese-English Translation) and M.A. (Asian Religions) from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and his Ph.D. (Asian Religions) from Princeton University.

Joshua Schlachet

Joshua Schlachet

University of Arizona (History)

Joshua Schlachet is a historian of early modern and modern Japan, specializing in the cultural history of food and nourishment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His current project, “Nourishing Life: Diet, Body, and Society in Early Modern Japan,” examines the emergence of a dietary “common knowledge” as new practical guidebooks circulating among ordinary readers expanded the concept of a well-nourished body to encompass economic productivity, status hierarchy, and moral cultivation. His research interests include global and comparative food studies, histories of science and health, book history and popular publishing, and material culture and artisanship. Schlachet teaches courses on Japanese and East Asian history, dietary cultures, and everyday life. He received his Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University and holds an M.A. (Japanese Studies) from the University of Michigan and B.A. (History) from Cornell University.

Jingyi Li

Jingyi Li

University of Arizona (Graduate Student Organizer)

Jingyi Li is a doctoral student in Pre-modern Japanese literature and history, as well as a University Fellow. She earned her B.A. in Japanese Language and Literature from East China Normal University and M.A. in Pre-modern Japanese Literature from Kyushu University. Her research focuses on Edo period literary history, particularly popular literature. Her current project features intellectual / bunjin communities in the late Edo period. She is also interested in pre-modern Japanese print culture and paleography. Her hobbies are transcribing kuzushiji and cycling.

2019 Sponsors

This workshop was made possible thanks to a Faculty Research Grant from the College of Humanities at the University of Arizona. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Department of East Asian Studies Department, Department of Religious Studies and Classics, and Center for Buddhist Studies for their generous support of our program.

For any questions, please contact Joshua Schlachet at