Workshop: University of Michigan Medieval Komonjo Workshop 2018

University of Michigan Medieval Komonjo Workshop 2018

“Commoners and Authority in Medieval Japan”, July 9 to August 3, 2018

We are delighted to announce the University of Michigan Medieval Komonjo Workshop 2018, a month-long intensive summer program in medieval historical materials, the theme of which will be “Commoners and Authority in Medieval Japan.” The workshop will introduce a variety of materials that emphasize the non-elites and their relationship to political institutions and authorities that impacted their everyday lives. Some materials to be covered are documents from the Kanazawa bunko komonjo 金沢文庫古文書, Shokunin uta awase 職人歌合, and Sengoku daimyo letters in the possession of the Nagano Prefectural Museum of History.

The workshop will occur in two sessions, with instruction M-F, 9AM–12PM, 1PM–4PM. The first session, led by Professor Sasamoto Shōji (Director, Nagano Prefectural Museum of History), will focus on the Muromachi/Sengoku periods (1336-1603). The latter session, by Professor Takahashi Shin’ichirō (The Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo), will focus on the Kamakura period (1185-1333). Additional lectures on material culture and commoner life will be provided by Professor Eric C. Rath (University of Kansas, UM Center for Japanese Studies Toyota Visiting Professor, 2017-2018).

The workshop will be conducted in Japanese. Participants will decipher premodern texts, transcribe them into modern Japanese, and finally translate them into English. Participants should have advanced Japanese proficiency and have at least introductory level proficiency in classical Japanese or Chinese.

The workshop will be free to participants. While it is possible to attend only one session, full financial support for housing costs will be provided for those attending both sessions (particularly graduate students). Housing support for part-time attendees will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The estimated cost for one-session housing is $1,000. The cost of travel and meals (aside from workshop welcome dinners) will not be provided. However, depending on the number of applicants, a partial travel grant may be available to graduate students.

Applications are due March 2, 2018. 

See the application form on the Center for Japanese Studies website below for more details.


Please direct any further questions to Paula R. Curtis (, cc Hitomi Tonomura (

This workshop is made possible by the generous support of the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan International Institute, Northeast Asia Council (NEAC) of the Association for Asian Studies, the University of Michigan’s Department of History, The University of Michigan Asia Library, University of Michigan’s Japanese Studies Interdisciplinary Colloquium, The Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, and the University of Michigan Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program.

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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