The Project for Premodern Japan Studies has trained scholars who are working all over the world. Below are some of our members and current graduate students.


Rieko Kamei-Dyche

Rissho University
After spending several years at Hitotsubashi University as an international coordinator I moved to Rissho University, one of the oldest private institutions in Japan, as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Arts. I teach courses on premodern and modern Japanese history and literature. I am also responsible for coordinating international student education and our exchange programs, as well as being involved in curriculum design. In addition, I teach survey courses in Japan studies to foreign students at Daito Bunka University.


Janet R. Goodwin

University of Southern California
Janet R. Goodwin is an associate-in-research at the USC East Asian Studies Center and an associate faculty member of the Center for Japanese Religion and Culture.  As professor of cultural studies, she was a founding faculty member of the University of Aizu in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan.  She has a PhD in Japanese history from the University of California, Berkeley, and has taught at several universities in the U.S., including USC and UCLA—sometimes even at the same time, but never during football season! 
Her publications include Land, Power, and the Sacred: The Estate System in Medieval Japan (edited, with Joan R. Piggott; forthcoming, University of Hawai’i Press); Selling Songs and Smiles:  The Sex Trade in Heian and Kamakura Japan (Hawai’i 2007); and Alms and Vagabonds: Buddhist Temples and Popular Patronage in Medieval Japan (Hawai’i 1994), along with a number of articles, translations, reviews, and conference presentations.  Her current research focuses on outcasts and marginals in medieval Japan.


Michelle Damian

Monmouth College
After completing a postdoctoral year at Harvard University’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, I have started a position as an assistant professor in the History Department of Monmouth College in Illinois. As the first East Asian historian here in over twenty years, there is the excitement and challenge of putting Asia on the curricular map. This year I will be teaching classes on the Pacific War, the History of Samurai, the business history of modern East Asia, and premodern Japanese material culture. The college community has been very welcoming, with plans to incorporate Japan in the annual “Classics Day” activities while considering ways to move forward with creating an Asian Studies minor in the curriculum.


Sachiko Kawai

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
Dr. Sachiko Kawai is a historian specializing in premodern Japanese history with a focus on women, their landholdings, and gender power relations in the medieval period (c. 1100-1600). She earned her M.A. at the University of Southern California (USC)  in East Asian Languages and Cultures. She conducted her dissertation research at the Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo with the support of a Japan Foundation Fellowship. After receiving her Ph.D. in History and a Graduate Certificate in Gender Studies at USC, she taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the East Asian Languages and Civilizations Department at Harvard University as a Harvard College Fellow. Her dissertation, “Power of the Purse: Estates and Religio-Political Influence of Japanese Royal Women—1100-1300,” challenges a master narrative that emphasizes the rule of male royals and warriors in medieval Japan.

Kristina at Ise.jpeg

Kristina Buhrman

Florida State University
After a year as a visiting professor at the University of Missouri’s Religious Studies program, Dr. Kristina Buhrman joined the Department of Religion at Florida State University, where she teaches courses on Buddhism, religion in Japan, the samurai and ethics, folk religion and culture, along with premodern languages. Her research is on of the history of knowledge in classical and medieval Japan; particularly that involving Onmyodo (a loosely-defined system of divination and propitiatory rituals that drew from Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist traditions), as well as related fields such as astronomy and astrology. She has published articles on various subjects including historical memory and disaster, the history of science in pre-1600 Japan, and astrology during the mid-Heian Period.


Dan Sherer

University of Southern California, postdoctoral at KILA
Dan Sherer's research focuses on sixteenth-century political and religious institutions. His current research focuses on the unification of the Nichiren sect in Kyoto and the sect’s negotiation of the violent era from the rise of the Lotus Leagues to the reign of Oda Nobunaga. His other research interests include legal and criminal history and the history of Japanese conjuring.

Nadia Kanagawa

Furman University
Born in San Diego, and raised in St. Louis, Nadia graduated from Yale with a B.A. in History. She then received a Richard U. Light Fellowship and moved to Yokohama, Japan to study at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies for 10 months. After completing the IUC program, Nadia moved to Tokyo and worked at Google in Japan for three years before returning to the US and to academia in the fall of 2011. Her research interests include early state formation in Japan, immigration from the Korean peninsula to Japan in the 6th and 7th centuries, and archaeology.

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Program Students


Jillian Barndt

University of Southern California, ABD
Jillian grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. in History and East Asian Studies from Bryn Mawr College in 2010. After undergraduate, she attended the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies. She received her M.A. in East Asian Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Alberta in 2013. Jillian entered the Ph.D. program in the History department at USC in Fall 2013. Her research interests include education, gender and sexuality in the Heian Period, particularly the political agency of women and marriage politics within the Fujiwara clan. In 2016, Jillian received a Fullbright Fellowship to study at premodern education at the University of Tokyo.


Emily Warren

University of Southern California, PhD Student
Emily Warren received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Southern California in East Asian Languages and Cultures. For her thesis, she researched epidemiology in Classical Japan and studying Japanese at Meiji University, Nanzan University, and finally, Himeji Dokkyo University with a Critical Language Scholarship from the State Department. After graduation she worked at the Mainichi Shimbun as an assistant correspondent covering American politics and entertainment. Returning to USC in 2016, Emily began her doctoral studies, focusing on the history of premodern food in Japan.