Thanks to the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies and the Consulate General of Japan in Vancouver, Professor Christina Laffin will be hosting Dr. Charlotte von Verschuer from the École pratique des hautes études (EPHE) for a week long visit as part of the French Scholars Series. Through the support of the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhism and Contemporary Society, the Institute of Asian Research, and the Department of Asian Studies Yabe fund, Dr. von Verschuer will join us for a workshop on a medieval scroll and two public lectures.

Monday, November 3 (10 am-3 pm), Asian Centre 604

Dr. von Verschuer will lead a workshop on The Illustrated Biography of the Priest Ippen (Ippen shōnin e-den, 1299). The workshop is aimed at graduate students, faculty members, and curators, but all are welcome!


Other events by Dr. von Verscheur include:

C17-1024x909 (1) A public lecture on “Rice in Japanese Culture: Myth and Reality from a Premodern Perspective,” Thursday, November 6 (noon-1:30 pm), CK Choi 120. Considered the traditional staple of the Japanese diet (an assumption Dr. von Verschuer has recently challenged), rice has been used as a form of currency and a method of land division in Japan. The history of rice reveals demographic changes, economic transformations, and even artistic developments. This lecture will present a historical outline of Japanese agricultural traditions from the 8th to the 18th centuries.


K20-1024x452(2) A public lecture on “The Trousseau of a Japanese Noblewoman,” Friday, November 7 (6-7:30 pm), CK Choi 120. In 1146, Fujiwara no Chikataka (1099-1165) presented his daughter with a boxed set of articles for her wedding. He ordered several prominent craftsmen to make the wooden case and adorn it with the most elaborate lacquer techniques of the time, including mother-of-pearl inlay and gold dust designs. This piece of furniture was meant for the private salon of the lady and was fitted with the daily utensils she would need during her life time. We will analyze its contents from the perspectives of art history and material culture and consider the craft and artistry behind each item. The lecture will show how this trousseau presents a miniature yet full spectrum view into the daily life and customs of a noblewoman of twelfth-century Japan.


Dr. Charlotte von Verschuer’s historiography bridges the fields of institutional history, geography, art history, philology, cultural history, and literary study in analyzing the physical remnants of the past millennium in Japan. Recent journal articles have challenged conventional wisdom on subjects such as rice consumption and the aesthetics of premodern beauty. Utilizing an innovative and transdisciplinary approach, Dr. Charlotte von Verschuer reveals new answers to questions about trade, farming, crafts, diet, and clothing.

Trained at the École pratique des hautes études (Paris), the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (Paris), Bonn University (Germany), the National Palace Museum (Taipei), the International Christian University (Tokyo), and the University of Tokyo, Dr. von Verschuer’s work draws from historical written sources, archaeology, visual materials, as well as material culture and craft objects (including ceramics, lacquer, and textiles). She combines her philological research with an anthropological approach influenced by the French Annales school. Her interests include material culture, economic history, and foreign relations including trade. Recent studies have encompassed agricultural history and food history.

Dr. von Verschuer has authored or co-edited eight books and more than 50 articles in French, English, German, and Japanese. Her publications include monographs on premodern East Asian commerce and rice cultivation, as well as collaborative projects such as the French/English Dictionary of Sources of Classical Japan.