History and Art History
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Brian W. Platt

Brian W. Platt

Brian W. Platt


Associate Professor

World History: Japan, East Asia

Brian Platt is Associate Professor of History and is currently serving as Department Chair.  He is a specialist in Japanese history, with a research focus on the 18th and 19th centuries.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998, and is the author of Burning and Building: Schooling and State Formation in Japan, 1750-1890 (Harvard, 2004).  He is the recipient of grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, the National Academy of Education, and the Association for Asian Studies.  His current research project deals with historical commemoration and autobiography in 18th and 19th century Japan. He has taught various courses on Japanese and Asian history, as well as comparative courses on such issues as modernization, memory, gender, and national identity.

Current Research

“From Memory to History, via Archaeology:  The Life of an Ancient Monument in Tokugawa-era Japan”—article manuscript in preparation

“Early Modernity and Historical Consciousness in Japan”—article manuscript in preparation

“Wind, Worms and Weeds:  Rescuing the Eroding Past in Early Modern Japan”—book manuscript in preparation

Selected Publications

“Imperialism and Civil War in mid-19th Century East Asia,” in Peter Stearns, ed., The American Civil War in Global Context (Richmond, Virginia, The Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, 2015).

Burning and Building: Schooling and State Formation in Japan, 1750-1890 (Harvard, 2004). 

“Japanese Childhood, Modern Childhood: The Nation-State, Schooling, and 19th-Century Globalization,” Journal of Social History, vol. 38, no. 1 (Summer 2005)

“Chiiki to kokumin kokka no keisei: Meiji kyōiku kara mite” (“The Local in the Nation State”). In William Steele and Kawanishi Hide, eds., Approaches to Japanese Local History (Tokyo: Yamakawa Shuppansha, 2005).

Courses Taught

HIST 251: Premodern East Asia
HIST 356: Modern Japan
HIST 357: Postwar Japan
HIST 387: Gender in Japanese History
HIST 300: Hiroshima and Nagasaki in History and Memory
HIST 555: Becoming Modern: A Comparative Look at Europe and East Asia

Recent Presentations

“Civil War and Mobilization: Japan in Comparative Perspective,” delivered at conference, “The Civil Wars of the Meiji Restoration & National Reconciliation: Global Historical Perspectives,” Wake Forest University, January 30-31, 2015.

“Imperialism and Civil War in mid-19th Century East Asia,” delivered at the Virginia Sesquientennial of the American Civil War Commision conference, “The American Civil War in a Global Context,” May 31, 2014.