nl en

HUM History Seminar 1


Admission requirements

Visit MyTimetable.


Body, Health and Disease in Japanese History.

This course aims to explore views of the body, health and disease in Japanese history, with a particular focus on early modern or Edo-period Japan (1600-1868). What did people consider a ‘healthy’ life-style? How did they tackle epidemics and disease? What did they know about the body’s workings? What kind of medicine was practiced and who could practice it? These are some of the issues that we will tackle based on readings of primary and secondary sources; topics to be discussed include the female body and pregnancy; health and food; anatomy and ‘Dutch medicine’; traditional Chinese healing methods; and diseases from measles to syphilis. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on how seemingly ‘natural’ biological concepts such as the body, health and disease need to be understood as cultural categories that may have very different meanings across time.

Course objectives

Students will be able to

  • Identify key paradigms of the medical body, health and disease in early modern Japan

  • Critically analyse historical sources and secondary materials

  • Learn how to articulate evidence-based arguments in discussions and in writing

  • Marshal basic analytical and theoretical tools to approach the body in history

  • Reflect on the cultural trappings of their own attitudes towards the body


The timetable is available on Japanstudies

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Participation (30%)

  • Students are expected to participate actively in discussions and group exercises and prepare weekly readings.

  • Midterm quiz (20%)

  • Research Paper Presentation (10%)

  • Research Paper (40%)

Reading list

The required readings are either available on the digital course bookshelf or in the digital reader, as are some of the further readings that will be useful for essays.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Contact information Dr. A.C. Koch