COVID-19: Essential Information

Max Ward

Associate Professor of History

Japan, East Asia, Social Theory

 work(802) 443-5682
 Fall 2020: Please email. Zoom by appt.
 Axinn Center 342

Max Ward teaches Japanese and East Asian history, with special emphasis on social theory, ideology and political thought. He received his PhD from New York University in 2011 and his Bachelors from the University of California, Berkeley in 1999.

Ward's primary research focuses on the intersection between ideology and state power in modern Japan. His first book titled Thought Crime: Ideology and State Power in Interwar Japan (Duke University Press 2019) analyzes the imperial state’s policies to rehabilitate political criminals in the Japanese Empire during the 1930s. His second book project explores the transformations in police power in postwar Japan, including how policing was re-conceptualized, practiced by various institutions beyond formal police agencies, and represented in popular culture. In addition to his research on state power, he has also written/presented on a wide-range of topics, including postwar Japanese film, Kyoto school philosophy, Japanese imperialism in Korea, fascism as a global phenomenon, as well as postcolonial theory and the question of historical difference. His research has been awarded grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Japan Foundation, Fulbright, and the Northeast Asia Council of the AAS, among others.

For CV and selected publications/papers please visit:



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1376 - Postwar Japan in Film and Lit.      

Postwar Japanese History in Film and Literature
In this seminar we will study the history of postwar Japan (1945 to the present), focusing on how literature and film have engaged the defining historical and political questions of this period. The seminar is organized around
specific themes, including: trauma and war memory, the Allied occupation, the cold war in East Asia, high economic growth in the 1960s, political protest, post-coloniality, and a resurgent nationalism. Students will learn postwar Japanese history while also considering the possibilities of persuing historical analysis through translated literature and narrative film. 3 hrs. sem. AAL CW HIS NOA

Fall 2016, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

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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. AAL HIS NOA SOC

Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

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HIST 0236 / JAPN 0236 - History Modern Japan/1800-1952      

History of Modern Japan, 1800-1952
This course reviews the major events and enduring questions of modern Japanese history beginning with the Meiji Restoration (1868) up through the Allied Occupation (1945-1952) following Japan’s defeat in World War II. Through a variety of materials, including novels, philosophy, historical essays, and films, we will explore the formation of the modern Japanese nation-state, the “invention of tradition” in constructing a modern national identity, Japan’s colonial incursions into East Asia, 1920s mass culture, the consolidation of fascism in the 1930s, and the transwar legacies of early postwar Japan. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between transformations within Japan and larger global trends. AAL HIS NOA SOC

Spring 2017, Spring 2018

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HIST 0306 - Global Fascism      

Global Fascism
What was, or is, fascism? How do we know it when we see it? Can fascism be understood as an exclusively European phenomenon, or did it become manifest in movements and regimes in other parts of the twentieth-century world? In this seminar, we will engage with such questions via a range of texts including manifestos, films, and scholarly works. The first part of the course will interrogate seminal theories of fascism, the second will examine historical instances of fascism with particular emphasis on East Asia, and the final part will engage with debates about the contemporary resurgence of authoritarian populism. 3 hrs. Sem. AAL CMP HIS NOA

Fall 2017

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HIST 0312 / JAPN 0312 - Tokyo Between History & Utopia      

Tokyo: Between History and Utopia
In this course we will explore the history of Tokyo—from its "prehistory" as a small castle town 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, of play, and for many, of decadence. Through a range of sources, including films, novels, ethnographies, and historical essays, we will use Tokyo as a "site" (both urban and ideological) through which to explore broader questions related to capitalist modernity, the formation of the nation-state, cultural identity, gender politics, and mass-culture. 3 hrs. sem. AAL HIS NOA SOC

Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

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HIST 0437 - Modernity and its Critique      

Modernity and its Critique: A Global Survey
What do we mean when we refer to “modernity”? What are the defining processes and institutions of modernity? Is modernity universally experienced? And is modernity itself historical? In this seminar we will explore how a variety of thinkers from different regions and time-periods sought to understand the foundational institutions and processes associated with modernity, including the nation-state, colonialism, and ideology. Our exploration will follow two interrelated trajectories. First, we will interrogate key concepts associated with the modern experience; second, we will pay attention to how thinkers formulated these concepts to answer the pressing questions of their contemporary moment. 3 hrs. sem. CMP HIS SOC

Fall 2018

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HIST 0500 - Special Research Projects      

Special research projects may only be taken during the Junior or Senior year, preferable after taking HIST 0600. Approval of department chair and project advisor is required.

Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021

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HIST 0700 - Senior Independent Study      

Senior Independent Study
The optional History Senior Thesis is written over two terms, with the final grade applying to both terms. Approval is required. Students submit thesis proposals in the spring before the year that they choose to write their thesis. Students generally begin their thesis in the fall and complete it during winter or spring. Approval is required to begin the thesis in winter or spring. All students must attend the Thesis Writer's Workshops in fall and winter semesters and work with a faculty advisor to complete a 55-70 page paper. Please see detailed guidelines under history requirements.

Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021

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HIST 1029 / JAPN 1029 - Police Aesthetic Japan Film      

Police Aesthetics in Japanese Film
In this course students will consider theories of police power in modern society while analyzing its representation in Japanese cinema. Each week we will begin with readings about one aspect of police power, and will then consider this aspect when analyzing a set of Japanese films. The objectives of the course are for students: (1) to gain a more multifaceted understanding of the police function in modern society, (2) to learn the general history of the Japanese police system, and (3) to cultivate an appreciation of Japanese film and its possibilities for critical reflection. AAL HIS NOA SOC WTR

Winter 2020

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JAPN 0500 - Independent Project      

Qualified students may be permitted to undertake a special project in reading and research under the direction of a member of the department. Students should seek an advisor and submit a proposal to the department well in advance of registration for the term in which the work is to be undertaken.

Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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JAPN 0700 - Honors Thesis      

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)

Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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Program in International and Global Studies

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