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Laura NenziProfessor

Laura Nenzi, Professor (Ph.D. University of California Santa Barbara 2004, Laurea summa cum laude, University of Venice Ca’ Foscari, Italy 1994). Early Modern Japan; social history; gender.

Laura Nenzi came to Emory in 2022 after four years at Florida International University and thirteen years at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She is a social and cultural historian of early modern Japan (1600-1868) interested in space, gender, identity, and the written word. She enjoys writing history in different scales, from the very small to the large. Her two books reflect this interest: in the first, Excursions in Identity: Travel and the Intersection of Place, Gender, and Status in Edo Japan (University of Hawai’i Press, 2008), she worked with the large scale and looked at trends in travel culture spanning two and a half centuries. With the second, The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko: One Woman’s Transit from Tokugawa to Meiji Japan (University of Hawai’i Press, 2015), she turned to the small scale and wrote a microhistory centered on the life of an ordinary person who did not change the course of history. Both books place women at the center.

She is also committed to linking Japanese history to global history and to speak to scholars outside her area of expertise. Her next book (After Dark: A History of the Nighttime in Early Modern Japan) examines nocturnal practices of early modern Japan to revisit assumptions about Japan’s modernization and about the global nighttime.

Her articles on pilgrimage, comets, recreational travel, and late-Tokugawa political activists appeared in Monumenta Nipponica, The Journal of Japanese Studies, Japan Forum, Early Modern Japan, The Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, and Journeys: The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing. She also contributed chapters on such topics as gift giving, commercial publishers, the Meiji Restoration, regional history, or the nighttime to The Cambridge History of Japan, The Routledge Companion to Travel Writing, and a number of edited monographs.

She is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities; a position as visiting researcher at the National Museum of History and Folklore in Sakura (Japan); an Award for New Research in the Arts and Humanities from the University of Tennessee; and a residential fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.


  • Ph.D. in Japanese History, University of California Santa Barbara 2004
  • Laurea summa cum laude in East Asian Studies, University of Venice Ca’ Foscari, Italy 1994


  • Early Modern Japan
  • Social History
  • Gender