David Spafford

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Assistant Professor,
Pre-Modern Japanese
Contact Information
Office Address: 
855 Williams Hall
Office Hours: 
Mondays and Wednesdays by appointment only. Please email for an appointment.
Email Address: 



PhD, History, University of California, Berkeley, 2006.

Recent Courses: 

EALC 002: Introduction to Japanese Civilization

EALC 073: Freshman Seminar: Culture and Conflict: Japan's Long Sixteenth Century

EALC 162: City and Citizenship: Warrior Politics and Commoner Culture in Early Modern Japan

EALC 176: The Age of the Samurai

EALC 251: Readings in Classical Japanese

EALC 264: Bandits, Pirates, and Peasants: Lawlessness and Violence in Premodern Japan          

EALC 270: From Shamans to Shoguns: A Textual History of Premodern Japan

EALC 276: Warriors, Peasants, and Monks in Medieval Japan

EALC 301: Major Seminar: Information and Nation in Japan

EALC 751: Early Modern Japanese History: Travel Print Nation


Selected Publications: 

 “Handed Down in the Family: The Past and Its Uses in the Kan’ei Genealogies of 1643.” The Journal of Japanese Studies 42, no. 2 (Summer 2016), forthcoming.  

“What’s in a Name? House Revival, Adoption, and the Bounds of Family in Late Medieval Japan.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 74, no. 2 (December 2014): 283-331. 

“Emperor and Shogun, Pope and King: The Development of Japan’s Warrior Aristocracy.” Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 88, no. 1 (April 2014): 11-19. 

A Sense of Place: The Political Landscape in Late Medieval Japan. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2013.

“Warriors Are Tools: Commentary on ‘Epic Hero as Cyborg.’” Fragments: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Medieval and Ancient Pasts 2 (2012): 26-34. URL: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/frag

“Uesugi Kenshin.” Entry in The Encyclopedia of War, ed. Gordon Martel, vol. 5, 2263-64. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2012. (peer-reviewed.)

“Takeda Shingen.” Entry in The Encyclopedia of War, ed. Gordon Martel, vol. 4, 2128-30. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2012. (peer-reviewed.)

Review of The Culture of Disputes in Early Modern Japan, 1550-1700, by David Anthony Eason (PhD diss.). For Dissertation Reviews, October 4, 2011. URL: http://dissertationreviews.wordpress.com

“An Apology of Betrayal: Political and Narrative Strategies in a Late Medieval Memoir.” Journal of Japanese Studies 35, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 321-52.


In Preparation:

The Corporate Warrior House in Japan, 1450-1650. Monograph in progress.

“The Private Exercise of Public Violence.” In vol. 2 of the Cambridge World History of Violence, ed. Deborah Tor, Harriet Zurndorfer, and Richard W. Kaeuper. In progress 

“Hōjō Sōtetsu’s Recommendations to His Niece.” Translation for Bushidō: A Reader, ed. Sarah Thal and Michael Wert. In progress.