Assistant Professor of HistoryJapan, East Asia, Social Theory
Max Ward joined the History Department in 2011. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he received his Bachelors from the University of California, Berkeley in 1999 and soon afterwards moved to NYC to pursue a Ph.D. in Modern Japanese History at New York University. After a decade of nomadic research – including extended stays in NYC, Yokohama and Tokyo – he arrived to Middlebury. His teaching interests include courses on early East Asia, pre-modern and modern Japan, imperialism and colonialism, theories of global fascism, social theory, historical methodologies, and interwar Japanese society and culture. He is currently working on a book on cultural crisis, state power and ideology in 1930s Japan. He has received various grants and fellowships from Fulbright IIE, US Department of Education, Technical University in Berlin, NYU History Department and NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
“China and the World: Staging the Second Sino-Japanese War as World-Historical Event” Organizer and Panelist, World History Association., Beijing China June 2011
“The Subject of/as Crisis: Nakamura Yoshiaki, Kobayashi Moritō and Tenkōsha as New Subjective Form” AAS, Northeastern Conference, Vermont Nov 2010
“From Prevention to Production: The Categorical Function of Kokutai in the Peace Preservation Law and the Paradox of Sovereignty” Waseda Modern Japanese History Workshop, Tokyo Dec 2009
“Urban Space, Thought Crime and Interwar Japanese Fascism” Technical University, Berlin Germany, June 2009
“The Logic of Ambiguity: The Japanese Peace Preservation Law and the Category of Kokutai” University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy, Japan May 2009
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
FYSE 1376 - WWII & Japan's Long Postwar
WWII and Japan's 'Long Postwar'
With the death of Emperor Hirohito in 1989, debate re-ignited over Japan’s prewar empire, wartime atrocities, and role in the Cold War – all of which converged in the question of Japan’s “long postwar.” Through a variety of novels, films, and essays, we will explore how this question continues to serve as a paradigm for addressing questions of Japan’s postwar cultural identity, economic prosperity, and social dislocations. Our larger objective will be to analyze how the tensions between the diverse national histories, experiences, and memories of World War II continue to inform the geopolitics of East Asia today. 3 hrs. sem.
HIST 0111 - Early East Asia
Early East Asia
This course explores the history of China, Korea, and Japan in the centuries before extended contact with the West. We will begin by questioning what historians mean by “East Asia” as a historical category and then trace the shared as well as distinct philosophical, political, and cultural practices that defined each region and its respective historical periods. Topics will include Confucianism, Buddhism, the development of local and regional economies, the migration of populations, and the changing modes of statecraft within each area. Pre-1800. Not open to students who have taken HIST 0231 or HIST 0235. 2 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc.
HIST 0235 / JAPN 0235 - History of Pre-Modern Japan
History of Pre-Modern Japan
In this course we will explore the social, cultural, and institutional history of Japan from the eighth century up through the rise of the Tokugawa shogunate in the 17th century. The course is organized thematically to illuminate the different periods of Japanese history, including the imperial origin myth and Heian culture, the frontier and the rise of samurai government, localism and the warring states period, and finally the Tokugawa settlement and the paradoxes of centralized feudalism. Pre-1800. 3 hrs. lect/disc.
Fall 2011, Spring 2013
HIST 0236 / JAPN 0236 - History of Modern Japan ▲
The History of Modern Japan
In this course we will review the major themes and events of modern Japanese history from the Meiji Restoration (1868) to the present. Through reading a variety of primary texts, historical analyses, and literature, as well as watching films, we will explore the formation of the modern Japanese nation-state, Japan’s colonial project in East Asia, 1920s mass culture, the question of Showa fascism, and Japan’s unique postwar experience, from occupation to high-growth and the “lost decade” of the 1990s. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between changes within Japan and larger global trends. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013
HIST 0430 / JAPN 0430 - East Asia/Japan's Long Postwar
Readings in Modern East Asian History: Post-colonial East Asia and Japan's "Long Postwar"
With the end of the Cold War and the death of Emperor Hirohito in 1989, long simmering debates reignited over the meaning of Japan's prewar empire in East Asia, Japanese wartime atrocities, and the reconfiguration of East Asia within the Cold War. In this course, students will investigate how events from over 60 years ago have continued to reproduce national identities and geopolitical relations in postwar East Asia. Through a variety of novels, films, and historical analyses, we will investigate the limits of, and tensions between, individual experience, memory, national history, and geopolitics. 3 hrs. sem.
HIST 0436 / JAPN 0436 - Readings in Japanese History ▲
Readings in Japanese History: Modernism and Fascism between the World Wars
The 1920s in Japan is typically understood as a period of political and cultural experimentation, as witnessed by the rise of avant-garde cultural groups and radicalized social movements. In contrast, the 1930s is portrayed as Japan's "dark valley", in which this sense of experimentation was suppressed or co-opted by the state. In this course, we will revisit these tumultuous decades by engaging with a range of historical assessments, novels, and critical essays. We will begin by examining theories of modernism and fascism, and then explore the changing socio-cultural milieu in interwar Japan, including mass-culture, modernization, romanticism, imperialism, and utopianism. (formerly HIST 0418)
Spring 2012, Fall 2013
HIST 0700 - Senior Independent Study ▲ ▹
The History Senior Thesis is required of all majors. It is written over two terms, with the final grade applying to both terms. The project is generally begun in the fall and completed during winter or spring. Approval is required to begin the thesis in winter or spring, and such students must still attend the Thesis Writer's Workshops that take place in fall and winter.
Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014
HIST 1022 / JAPN 1022 - Tokyo History & Utopia
Tokyo: Between History and Utopia
In this course we will explore the history of Tokyo – from backwater village in the 16th century to the cosmopolitan metropolis of the 20th century – and trace how Tokyo has captured the imagination as a space of possibility, play, consumption, and, for many, decadence. Through a range of sources, including film, novels, ethnographies, and historical essays, we will use Tokyo as a lens through which to explore broader questions related to capitalist modernity, the formation of the modern nation-state, cultural identity, the politics of gender, and mass-culture.
JAPN 0700 - Honors Thesis ▹
Students write a thesis in English with a synopsis in Japanese on literature, film, or culture. The topic for the thesis is chosen in consultation with the instructor. (JAPN 0475)
Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Spring 2014