John W. Hall

John W. Hall

Considered one of this past century’s finest scholars of the history of Japan, John Whitney Hall was born in Tokyo in 1916 and developed an interest in Japanese language, culture, and history at an early age.  After receiving his Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Harvard, Hall began his academic career at the University of Michigan in 1949 and came to Yale in 1961 as A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History, a position he held until his retirement in 1983.  He was a leading figure at Yale, where he served as Master of Morse College and as Chair of the Council on East Asian Studies and the Department of History. 

Professor Hall specialized in the Ashikaga through Late Tokugawa periods, and throughout his career he wrote or edited some of the most important and influential volumes on Japanese history, including Government and Local Power in Japan, 500 to 1700.  He contributed to the study of Japan through not only his writing, but also through service as chair of several local and national committees, including the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, the Association for Asian Studies, and the American Council of Learned Societies-Social Science Research Council (ACLS-SSRC) Joint Committee on Japanese Studies.

The John W. Hall Lecture Series in Japanese Studies was established in 1999 with generous support from Mrs. Robin Hall in memory of her husband.  The Council on East Asian Studies hopes the Hall Lecture series will enable young and old scholars alike to remember John Whitney Hall’s work and contributions to the study of Japan.

John W. Hall Lectures in Japanese Studies


Richard J. Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director, MIT Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Cost of ‘Normalcy’: Updating Japan’s National Security


Noriko Mizuta, Poet, Literary Critic, Scholar of Comparative Literature, and Educator

Women Writers and the Discourse on the Postwar Japan


William W. Kelly, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Sumitomo Professor Emeritus of Japanese Studies, Yale University

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games: Why are they important, even for people who don’t like sports?


Thomas Lamarre, James McGill Professor in East Asian Studies & Associate Professor in Communication Studies, McGill University

“Vernacular Animism: Cartoon Animals and Multiethnic Empire”


Sheldon Garon, Professor of History and East Asian Studies, Princeton University

“On the Transnational Destruction of Cities: What Japan and the U.S. Learned from the Bombing of Britain and Germany in World War II”


Ken K. Ito, Professor of Japanese Literature, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Dismembered and Still Kicking: Kokoro in the High School Textbook


T.J. Pempel​, Jack M. Forcey Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

Dismantling Developmentalism: Japan’s Political and Economic Struggles After Achieving Success


Timon Screech, Professor of the History of Art, SOAS, University of London

“Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Silver Telescope: A Gift from King James I, and the Meaning of Artistic Exchange Between England and Japan, 1613-1623”


Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Professor of Japanese History, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, the Australian National University

“The Ghosts Return: History, Memory and International Tensions Between Japan and Its Neighbours”


Jacqueline Stone, Professor of Japanese Religions, Princeton University

“How Japan Became the World Center: ‘Three Countries’ in the Medieval Religious Imagination”


Nicole Rousmaniere, Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures

“Vessels of Influence: The Formation of the Porcelain Industry in Japan”  


Hiroshi Ishida, Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, The University of Tokyo

“Social Inequality Among Japanese Youth: Education, Work, and Marriage in Contemporary Japan”


Andrew Gordon, Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History, Harvard University

“Japan’s Wartime Modernity: Sewing and Dress in the Era of Emergency” 


John Owen Haley, William R. Orthwein Distinguished Professor of Law, Washington University

“Rivers and Rice: What Lawyers and Legal Historians Should Know About Medieval Japan”


Katsuhito Iwai, Professor, Economics Faculty, University of Tokyo

“What Will Become of the Japanese Corporation? A Comparative Perspective”


James McClain, Professor of History, Brown University

“Tokyo Modern: Some Preliminary Thoughts on the Significance of the Middle Class in the Twentieth Century”


Helen Hardacre, Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions and Society, Harvard University

“Japanese Religions and Constitutional Revision”


G. Cameron Hurst, Professor of Japanese and Korean Studies, University of Pennsylvania

“From Martial Skills to Martial Arts: The Transformation of Warrior Military Methods in Tokugawa Japan”


Carol Gluck, George Sansom Professor of History, Columbia University

“After the Shipwreck: New Horizons for History-Writing”


Patricia G. Steinhoff, Professor of Sociology, University of Hawaii

“Who Really Kidnapped Those Japanese to North Korea”


Susan B. Hanley, Professor of Japanese Studies, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington

“Making the Most of Resources and Space: Reflections on Pre-modern Japan from a Comparative Perspective”


Robert J. Smith, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Cornell University

“Time and Ethnology: Long-Term Research in Japan”


Hugh Patrick, Director, School of Business, Columbia University and long-time colleague and friend of Professor Hall, delivered the inaugural lecture:

“Major Japanese Economic Transformations, 1950-2000”