Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Michelle Damian on "Archaeology through Art: Early Modern Japanese Ship Construction."

Zoom Webinar is free and open to the public; co-sponsored by the University of St. Thomas Department of Art History (scroll down to “Events” to register)

please register via the St. Thomas Dept of Art History homepage

Lecture summary:

Maritime trade and transport flourished during Japan’s early modern (Edo, 1603 – 1868) period, connecting the urban centers of Osaka and Edo with the farthest reaches of Hokkaido and Kyushu. The omnipresent nature and variety of styles of boats, from local ferries, to fishing vessels, to large trade ships are recorded diligently in hundreds of woodblock prints by numerous different artists. Careful analysis of the construction styles and contexts of these vessels in the prints, in conjunction with contemporary ships’ treatises, extant artifacts in museum collections, and ethnographic research suggests that shipwrights strove to create visually striking watercraft that were adapted to the waters they plied. This lecture will highlight some of the distinctive features of Japanese ship construction and explore the role that different vessels play in the early modern maritime cultural landscape. 


 Michelle Damian has been teaching at Monmouth College (IL) since 2016, where she teaches classes on Japanese and Chinese history, public history, and maritime archaeology. She received her PhD from the University of Southern California, was a postdoctoral fellow at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University and has worked and studied in Japan for over nine years.


Dr. Damian specializes in Japanese maritime history and archaeology, most recently focusing on 14th– to 16th– century Japanese maritime-based trade networks, tracing the movements of both people and commodities in the Seto Inland Sea region. She has published widely on this topic, and has received numerous honors and awards (++ add Forsyth lectureship info) . She is also involved in museum work, volunteering with the local Warren County History Museum and the online Museum of Underwater Archaeology


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):


Damian, Michelle. “Japanese Wooden Boats in Woodblock Prints: A Research Project Journal,” The Museum of Underwater Archaeology. https://mua.apps.uri.edu/project_journals/aj/aj_intro.shtml


DiPaolo Loren, Diana, and Uzi Baram

2007    Between Art and Artifact: Approaches to Visual Representations in Historical Archaeology. Historical Archaeology 41(1):1 – 5.


Kalland, Arne. 

1995    Fishing Villages in Tokugawa Japan. University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, HI.


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