Barry McNamara  |  Published October 22, 2019

Sailing Back to Medieval Japan

‘Travel, Trade, and Trauma in Medieval Japan’ focus of Oct. 26 symposium.
The symposium Travel, Trade, and Trauma in Medieval Japan will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Barnes Electronic Classroom in Hewes Library.
The symposium “Travel, Trade, and Trauma in Medieval Japan” will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Barnes Electronic Classroom in Hewes Library.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College history professor Michelle Damian will be one of the featured speakers at a symposium on medieval Japan, which will be hosted on campus Oct. 26.

Titled “Travel, Trade, and Trauma in Medieval Japan,” the symposium will begin at 2 p.m. in the Barnes Electronic Classroom in Hewes Library. It is free and open to the public.

MICHELLE DAMIAN: It's a pretty unusual opportunity to have this kind of conference at a place li... MICHELLE DAMIAN: “It's a pretty unusual opportunity to have this kind of conference at a place like Monmouth.”“It’s a pretty unusual opportunity to have this kind of conference at a place like Monmouth,” said Damian. “It is fairly specialized, but I think that’s one of the things that makes it interesting. Travel, trade and violence – these are all things that people can grab onto, even if you don’t have a whole lot of background in Japan.”

Joining Damian will be scholars Kendra Strand from the University of Iowa and Peter Shapinsky from the University of Illinois-Springfield. The three professors will each present research papers, and students from three Monmouth classes – “Introduction to Asian Studies” and “Maritime Archaeology,” plus an English course, “On Orientalism” – will prepare responses to the papers.

The three student responders will be Frida Gonzalez ’21 of Chicago, Emma Hildebrand ’21 of Mendon, Ill., and Will Stefanisin ’20 of Downers Grove, Ill.

Damian’s paper is titled “Salt, Shipping and Sea Captains: Maritime Trade in Late Medieval Japan.”

An assistant professor of Japanese literature and visual culture, Strand will present a paper titled “When Elegance Becomes Inconvenient: Violence in Word and Deed in Nijō Yoshimoto’s Ojima no kuchizusami.”

Shapinsky, who teaches history, wrote “Mapping the Sulfur Road: Japanese Maritime Cartography and Regionality in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.”

“It should be a good mix of papers,” said Damian. “It’s a good encapsulation of this late medieval period in Japan when it was a time of unrest, a time of pushing boundaries.”

The event will conclude with a panel discussion by all the speakers.

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