Julie Nelson Davis

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Associate Professor
307 Jaffe Building
215/ 898-3247

Julie Nelson Davis joined the faculty in 2002 and teaches the arts of East Asia from 1600 to the present. Davis received her B.A. from Reed College, studied in Japan as a Monbushô fellow at the Osaka University of Foreign Languages and at Gakushûin University, and completed her Ph.D at the University of Washington. Davis was a Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, affiliated with the University of East Anglia, Norwich, and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, during the calendar year 2003.

Research Interests: 

Davis’s primary research concerns Ukiyo-e, the “images of the floating world,” and the arts of the Tokugawa period (1615-1868). Her book, Utamaro and the Spectacle of Beauty, was co-published by Reaktion Books and the University of Hawai’i Press in late 2007.

Japan-RAMS Scholars at Penn ‘Cracking Code’ of Early Modern Japanese Manuscripts



Other recent publications include an essay on the influential ukiyo-e publisher, Tsutaya Jûzaburô in Designed for Pleasure: The World of Edo Japan in Prints and Paintings, 1680 – 1860 (Asia Society, 2008), a study of a painting by Teisai Hokuba in the Japanese art history journal, Kokka (2007), an overview essay on Utamaro and his contemporaries in The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints (Hotei Books, 2005), and an article on Utamaro and the status of the ukiyo-e artist in the anthology The Artist as Professional in Japan (Stanford University Press, 2004), among others. Special projects here at Penn include co-curating Dramatic Impressions: Japanese Theatre Prints from the Gilbert Luber Collection at the Arthur Ross Gallery in 2006, co-authoring the catalogue, and organizing the related symposium; Davis also taught the Spiegel Freshman seminar, “Contemporary Art in East Asia and the World,” with a site visit to the 2007 Venice Biennale. She is currently at work on a new book on artistic collaboration in ukiyo-e between 1775 and 1810.  Davis also served on the editorial board of caa.reviews.

Courses Taught: 


  • ARTH 100: Spiegel Freshman Seminar: Contemporary Art in East Asia and the World
  • ARTH 103 & EALC 013: East Asian Arts and Civilizations
  • ARTH 213/613 & EALC 157: Arts of Japan
  • ARTH 215/615: Japanese Painting
  • ARTH 218/618: Early Modern Japanese Arts and the City of Edo
  • ARTH 219/619: Modern Japanese Arts
  • ARTH 210/610 & FILM 223: Post-war Japanese Cinema and Visual Culture
  • ARTH 301: Undergraduate Seminar in East Asian Art; recent topics include:
    • “The Concept of the ‘Artist’ in Japan”
    • “Ukiyo-e: Images of the Floating World”
  • ARTH 413: 20th-century Arts in China and Japan
  • ARTH 511: Japanese Prints and Ukiyo-e
  • ARTH 513: Proseminar in East Asian Art; recent topics include:
    • “Gender Issues in Japanese Art”
    • “Global Art, 1500-1700” (co-taught with Larry Silver)
  • ARTH 713: Graduate Seminar in East Asian Art; recent topics include:
    • “The Concept of the Artist in Twentieth-Century China and Japan”
    • “Modern Japanese Arts, 1868-1955”