Susan Burns

Susan Burns, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of History and East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Social Sciences 221
Teaching and Research Interests: 

Intellectual and cultural history of Tokugawa and Meiji Japan, medicine and the body, gender and women's history, law and gender.

My work focuses on Japan's long nineteenth century, the period from the late Tokugawa period to the end of Meiji. My first book, Before the Nation, examines the Kokugaku discourse of the late Tokugawa period and explored how Japan was constituted as a form of cultural and social identity by nativist scholars. My second project, still in progress, explores the medical culture of the nineteenth century and analyzes the impact of the rise of "Western medicine" and public health upon conceptions of the body and subjecthood. Recently, I have turned to explore the intersection of medical and legal discourse in the formation of modern conceptions of gender. In a series of conference papers, I have taken up issues such as abortion, sexual violence, and the formation of family law.

Selected Publications: 

Before the Nation: Kokugaku and the Imagining of Community in Early Modern Japan (Duke University Press, 2003).

"Marketing Health and the Modern Body: Patent Medicine Advertisements in Meiji-Taisho Japan," forthcoming in Hans Thomsen and Jennifer Purtle, eds.., East Asian Visual Culture from the Treaty Ports to World War II (New York: Paragon Publishers, 2006).

Guest Editor, Special Issue on "Pregnancy and Childbirth in the Context of Modernity," US-Japan Women's Journal no. 24 (Winter 2003).

"From 'Leper Villages' to Leprosaria: Public Health, Medicine, and the Culture of Exclusion in Modern Japan," in Alison Bashford and Carolyn, Isolation: Policies and Practices of Exclusion (Routledge, 2003).

"Making Illness Identity: Writing 'Leprosy Literature' in Modern Japan." Japan Review no. 16 (2003).

  • Introduction to East Asian Civilizations: Japan (Winter 2006)
  • Early Modern Japan (Winter 2006)
  • Meiji Culture (Spring 2006)
  • Nineteenth Century Encounters: Japan and the West (Spring 2006)
  • Medicine and the Body in Japan (Spring 2004)
  • Gender and Japanese History (Autumn 2004)
Additional Information: