Japan Council Faculty

Raja Adal
Assistant Professor , History

Dr. Adal's areas of specialty are Japanese history and world history. He is the author of "Japan's Bifurcated Modernity: Writing and Calligraphy in Japanese  Public Schools, 1872-1943" (2009) published in Theory, Culture, and Society  as well as "Kanji Bunkaen" and "Arufabetto" (2012)  published in Gendai Shakaigaku Jiten. His most recent publication was published in Comparative Studies in Society and History in October 2016 and is titled "Aesthetics and the End of the Mimetic Moment: The Introduction of Art Education in Japanese and Egyptian Schools".  For a full description, see http://www.history.pitt.edu/faculty/Adalbio.php

Clark Chilson
Clark Chilson
Associate Professor, Religious Studies

I have two major current research interests. The first is the religious leadership of Ikeda Daisaku, President of Soka Gakkai International. The second is naikan, a meditative practice that grew out of the Shin Buddhist tradition and is currently used in Japan as both a form of psychotherapy and a practice for self-cultivation. My research on Ikeda Daisaku examines how Ikeda has motivated Soka Gakkai members since the 1950s by influencing their self-conceptions and attempts to contribute to theories on transformational leadership. My work on naikan examines how a meditative practice evolved and was reinterpreted in the twentieth century. 

Charles Exley
Charles Exley
Assistant Professor of Modern Japanese Literature and Film, East Asian Languages and Literatures

My work is motivated by a desire to add more visual and cultural history to traditional literary history. I enjoy exploring large theoretical questions about the nature of modernity and postmodernity, experimental poetry and poetics, mass culture from rakugo to advertising, and visual arts and film. My forthcoming book draws on a variety of discourses of interwar Japan (medical, colonial, historical, and popular) in order to examine the role of mental states in Satō Haruo's fiction.

Brenda G Jordan
Director of the University of Pittsburgh national coordinating site for the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) and Japan Studies Coordinator, Asian Studies Center. Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures

I am interested in issues of modernization, continuity and change in Meiji period Japanese art. I am currently working on projects that deal with the discourses about the nature of art in the late nineteenth century, and the impact that personal connections between Westerners and Japanese had on these discourses. I also am developing more interest in the representation of the supernatural in arts of the Edo and Meiji periods. 

Müge Kokten-Finkel
Müge Kokten-Finkel
Assistant Professor of International Development (Graduate School of Public & International Affairs)

Prior to joining GSPIA, I worked as Social Development Specialist at the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa Region, and consulted for the International Food Policy Research Institute. I worked on various development projects in Yemen, Egypt and Morocco with a focus on Community-Driven Development, especially related to youth and women’s issues.  I have been teaching courses on Gender and Development; Social Policies and International Organizations; Poverty and Human Development; Global Governance and Japanese Government and Politics. My recent research focuses on gender policies and empowerment outcomes under institutionalized and politicized Islam and focuses on Turkey, and my secondary research focuses on public policies that discriminate against women's labor force participation as I comparatively study Turkey and Japan.

Lecturer and Advisor for Chinese and Japanese Majors, East Asian Languages and Literatures

I find teaching and learning Japanese to be both immensely challenging and immensely rewarding. The challenge of teaching and learning a foreign culture, where using vocabulary and grammar well is the tip of the iceberg, I find fascinating. I try to instill in students a greater understanding of their own culture as well as Japanese culture in all my teaching.

In regard to research interests, I am interested in East Asian second language acquisition and second language pedagogy. Specifically, I am interested in what students do outside of class to study the language and how their out-of-class study efforts might be made more effective. I am also interested in how assessment, particularly daily grading, affects students’ language learning inside and outside the classroom.

Gabriella Lukacs
Gabriella Lukacs
Associate Professor in Anthropology Department

My research explores themes of television, digital media, capitalism, labor, and gender in contemporary Japan. My first book, Scripted Affects, Branded Selves, analyzes a new genre of primetime serials, the “trendy drama” as symptomatic of a shift in television production from story-based entertainment lifestyle-oriented programming.  

My current book project, Diva Entrepreneurs: Labor, Gender, and the Digital Economy in Contemporary Japan, explores how women turn to the digital economy in search of meaningful work and how this economy mobilizes them to regimes of unpaid and underpaid labor that, in addition, it harnesses as a motor of its own development. Case studies include the net idols, cell phone novelists, female Internet traders, young female photographers, and female bloggers.   

For a full description, see http://www.anthropology.pitt.edu/faculty/lukacs.html.

Hiroshi Nara
Hiroshi Nara
Professor, East Asian Languages & Literatures

My interests are 20th-century Japanese intellectual history and modernity, particularly the development of aesthetic categories and their political implications before World War II.  I am now working on how the idea of Greece contributed to Japanese modernity. Other interests include verb aspect, event structure, and grammaticalization in Japanese. I also have long-term interests in Japanese language pedagogy and translation theory. 

Elizabeth Oyler
Associate Professor of Premodern Japanese Literature

My research is motivated by a fascination with the way historical and cultural memory are represented in literature and performing arts from Japan's medieval period, particularly the 15th century. My first book focused on Japan's most famous military tale, The Tales of the Heike, exploring its connections to and influences on both the writing and performing of the early age of Japan's first shogunate. I am currently working on a book-length study of Noh drama, specifically how the staging of a set of plays by early playwrights simultaneously codify and undermine spaces of the poetic and social landscapes of the early fifteenth-century. 


Kaoru (Kay) Shimizu
Research Assistant Professor, Political Science

Kay Shimizu is currently a Research Assistant and Professor in the Department of Political Science.