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After graduating from Oberlin College, where I majored in Theater and minored in East Asian Studies, I worked for the Japanese Ministry of Education as an English Language Instructor on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. While in Japan, I pursued my interest in traditional theater through the study of Noh and Kyogen performance in Tokyo. In 1999, I entered the masters program in East Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and was awarded a Mombukagakusho grant to conduct archival research for at Yokohama National University. I was subsequently accepted into the Ph.D. program in History at the University of California, Berkeley, where my research focused on the eighth Tokugawa shogun, Yoshimune, and his legacy as an enlightened ruler. Research fellowships from UC Berkeley’s Center for Japanese Studies and the Japan Foundation allowed me to conduct archival research at Sophia University and the University of Tokyo’s Historiographical Institute. After graduating in 2010, I joined the History faculty at Siena College, where I currently teach courses on Japanese, Asian, and World History.

Degree Program University
Ph.D. History University of California-Berkeley
M.A. East Asian Studies University of Hawaii, Manoa
B.A. Theater Oberlin College

My Siena Experience

My Teaching Philosophy

My goal is simple: Give the right question to the right student at the right time. That is, in teaching, I constantly work to identify the needs of my students, and then to design the contents and structure of whatever course I’m teaching to meet those needs. This means I am continually refining my syllabi, lectures, and classroom activities to strike the right balance between discussions of historical concepts and practice of historical methods. Ultimately, my goal is to make students into practicing historians—if only for one semester—and to demonstrate that the skills we use to research and understand history will serve them in whatever field they go into. In this sense, I really do try to make my classes an “Education of a Lifetime!”

What I Love About Siena

I enjoy getting to know my students over the course of their careers here at Siena, and watching them flourish. The service learning component of my History 101 course helps me appreciate my students' abilities and personalities in ways that are just not possible in the classroom. Each semester, my classes work with the Damietta Center's Cross Cultural Solidarity Exchange program to volunteer at a local community center for refugees and immigrants. It's a great opportunity for me to see my students rise to challenging situations outside of the classroom, and they never fail to surprise and inspire me with their energy, commitment, and caring. By the end of the semester, I feel like I’ve made a personal connection with many of my students thanks to our service learning. And I always look forward to watching them carry that commitment to community service forward throughout their careers at Siena College.

My Favorite Courses to Teach

My favorite class to teach is always the one I’m offering next semester! All joking aside, the great thing about teaching at Siena is the freedom I enjoy to teach courses that are both interesting to me and beneficial for students. I always look forward to offering something new and different in the next semester. Whether it’s an honors seminar that allows students to work hands-on with local historical archives, a colloquium that collects oral histories of Albany-area veterans, an introductory course on traditional Japanese culture and arts, or a survey course that looks at twentieth-century world history through the lens of refugees, I am always excited about the courses I’m offering next semester and how I am going to make them richer, more rewarding learning experiences for everyone involved.

My Professional Experience

Year Title University
2010 - Now Assistant Professor of History Siena College
2003 - 2010 Graduate Student Instructor University of California, Berkeley

Current Research

My research interests include early modern Japanese political and social history; traditional Japanese drama, arts, and culture; and the performance of samurai identity prior to 1868. I am currently working on a translation and analysis of Tokugawa Muneharu’s “Essential Wisdom for Benevolent Governance” and a manuscript draft of “The Making of a Shogun: Tokugawa Yoshimune and the Myth of Rulership in Early Modern Japan.” Both of these projects examine the legitimacy of Tokugawa rulers, based on their ability to conform to changing ideas of samurai identity in eighteenth-century Japan.

Articles & Book Reviews

  • Walk Like a Samurai: Using Noh and Martial Arts Kata to Teach Japanese History
    Education About Asia
    2015

Awards & Distinctions

  • The Northeast Asia Council (NEAC) of the Association for Asian Studies, in conjunction with the Japan-US Friendship Commission, supports a variety of grant programs in Japanese studies designed to facilitate the research of individual scholars, to improve the quality of teaching about Japan on both the college and precollege levels, and to integrate the study of Japan into the major academic disciplines in the United States. An award of $900 enabled Dr. Jan Bardsly, PhD, UNC-Chapel Hill, to present her talk, “Millennial Maiko: The Geisha Apprentice in Japanese Popular Culture” for the Siena community and to meet with students of my honors seminar course.
    Category: Service-University
    Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies, 2017
  • Awarded fellowship to supervise student research on "The Papers of Robert H. Pruyn, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, 1861-1865." This project is a cornerstone for futher research on Pruyn's legacy, and an NEH Summer Seminar grant application that I am working on with the Albany Institute of History and Art.
    Category: Research
    Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, 2014
  • Cross-Cultural Solidarity Experience Diversity Program
    Category: Teaching
    Siena College, Damietta Cross-Cultural Center, 2014
  • Cross-Cultural Solidarity Experience Diversity Program
    Category: Teaching
    Siena College, Damietta Cross-Cultural Center, 2013
  • Stnadish Library Information Literacy Grant for "Mapping of the Contemporary World: Using Maps to Teach Twentieth-Century World History"
    Category: Teaching
    Siena College, 2013
  • Teacher of the Year Award
    Category: Teaching
    Siena College History Club, 2013
  • Cross-Cultural Solidarity Experience Diversity Program
    Category: Teaching
    Siena College, Damietta Cross-Cultural Center, 2012
  • Summer research grant for "Rivalry and Rulership in Tokugawa Japan"
    Category: Research
    Siena College, 2011

Presentations

  • Schrodinger's Restless Ghost: Meiji Era Noh Performances for Foreign Dignitaries
    2017
    New York Conference on Asian Studies, Geneva, New York
  • Walk Like a Samurai: Using Noh and Martial Arts Kata to Teach Japanese History
    January, 2015
    Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, Charlottesville, Virginia
  • The Crime of Personal Luxury in Tokugawa Japan
    October, 2014
    New England Conference on Asian Studies, Storrs, Connecticut
  • Exhortations of a Fabricated Lord: The Shogunal Legacy of Tokugawa Yoshimune and the Definition of Good Rule in Early Modern Japan
    January, 2014
    Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, Durham, North Carolina
  • "Traditions of Conflict in Early Modern Japan"
    September, 2012
    New York Conference on Asian Studies, New Paltz, NY, New York
  • "Labor and Leisure in Equal Measure: Benevolent Rule as Political Dissent in Tokugawa Japan"
    September, 2011
    New York Conference on Asian Studies, Buffalo, New York