What We Did This Summer

Photo of Workshop, Commoners and Authority in Medieval Japan

Professor Sasamoto discussing late medieval documents with workshop participants.

Happily, summer was not a quiet time for Asia Library this year. We were privileged to play host to an exciting four-week workshop on the topic of medieval komonjo, or premodern Japanese historical documents. The workshop, which was sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies, was developed by Paula R. Curtis (PhD Candidate, History) and Hitomi Tonomura (Professor, History & Women's Studies). The theme was "Commoners and Authority in Medieval Japan." Two eminent history professors came from Japan to teach, each for a two-week period. The eight-member class was made up of graduate students and faculty from all over the United States, with one who came from Japan as well. Over the first two weeks, Professor Sasamoto Shōji (Director, Nagano Prefectural Museum of History) provided instruction on late medieval documents. He was followed by Professor Takahashi Shin'ichirō (Historiographical Institute, University of Tokyo), who introduced early medieval materials. In the few sessions that I was able to audit, I was amazed by the passion with which the entire group tackled each document in turn, never reaching satisfaction until every nuance of the content had been thoroughly explored.

Among our other summer activities, we began planning for a celebration of the fact that it has been 70 years since Asia Library was first established (as the “Far Eastern Library”). Please plan to join us on Thursday, December 6, at 4 pm for a lecture and panel presentation about our history in the Hatcher Gallery. Following that we will have a reception in the Asia Library Reference Room. We are excited about celebrating how far we’ve come and where we plan to go next!