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Sarah Thal Thal
Associate Professor

Email: thal@wisc.edu
Phone: (608)265-6033
Office: 4117 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 4026 Mosse Humanities

Office Hours: Mondays 11:00 - 12:00 or by appointment

Education: PhD: Columbia University; MA: Columbia University; BA: SOAS, University of London; BSc: Georgetown

Bio Sketch:

I am a historian of early modern and modern Japan with particular interest in the interplay of religious, social, and political dynamics. My research and teaching interests include: Shinto, kami worship, and Japanese religion; the Meiji Restoration; samurai and bushido; local and place-based history; the modernization of the Japanese aristocracy; natural resources and the environment; and historical research methods. My current work examines the ways in which the eighteenth-century work on samurai ethics, Hagakure, has been reinterpreted over the centuries, not only as an exemplar of Japanese wartime propaganda but also as an ideal of masculinity, business management, loyalty, and spirituality.

Selected Publications:

  • Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods: The Politics of a Pilgrimage Site in Japan, 1573-1912 (University of Chicago Press, 2005).
  • “Redefining the Gods: Politics and Survival in the Creation of Modern Kami,” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, vol. 29, nos. 3-4 (Fall 2002): 379-404.

History Courses Taught:

Lecture Courses:

  • History 104 - Introduction to East Asian History: Japan
  • History 201 - Historian’s Craft: Conspiracy Theories: Evidence and Argument
  • History 454 - Samurai: History and Image

Undergraduate Seminars:

  • Historical Internship Seminar
  • History 200 - Historical Studies - Topics: "Film, Literature and the Japanese Past"
  • History 600 - Advanced Seminar in History - Topics: "Religion and Politics in Japan"; "Samurai in America"

Graduate Courses:

  • History 855 - Modern Japanese History - Topics: "Samurai and Bushido"; "Early Modern Japan"; "Shinto and Politics in Japan"
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