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Objects And Ritual In Japanese History (April 11 - May 9, 2023)

This course will use objects from art, industry, technology, and war to consider the richness of the Japanese past. From court ceremonies to samurai rituals on the battlefield, from daily gift exchanges to Buddhist mortuary markers, Japanese communities have expressed their dreams, fears, power, and imagination using material culture and rituals focusing on objects. Join us to explore Japan’s history through the study of things.


The five-week (April 11 - May 9) seminar includes:

  • video presentations 
  • readings
  • mandatory online forum participation
  • weekly live online Zoom discussion with an instructor (Tuesdays, 5-6pm Pacific Time).


Professor Morgan Pitelka teaches history and Asian studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is a specialist in the history of late medieval and early modern Japan, with a focus on the samurai, tea culture, ceramics, cities, and material culture. 



  • 3 Continuing Education Units (processing fee applicable)
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Online resources and materials
*Must complete seminar requirements
Schedule and Topics
Reading assignments and pre-recorded lectures for each week will be available in an online forum and are to be completed prior to the discussion sessions. Access and log-in information will be provided upon acceptance into the course. Please refer to the Seminar Requirements Document for details on assignments and course completion.
Online discussions (via Zoom) will be each Tuesday, 5-6pm Pacific Time.
Session Date Topic
1 Tue 4/11 Ritual and Material Culture in Prehistoric Japan
2 Tue 4/18 Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daily Life of the Imperial Court
3 Tue 4/25 Social and Cultural Rituals and the Maintenance of Warrior Society
4 Tue 5/2 The Performance of Power in Early Modern Japan
5 Tue 5/9 Ritual and Materiality in the Construction of Traditional Culture in Modern Japan

How to Apply

1. Submit your application below.



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