Highlights from Past Lectures

Katarzyna Cwiertkal lecturing

The Quality of our Speakers Reflects the Quality of Our Programs

For nearly two decades The Center for Japanese Studies lectures have examined the breadth of Japan from its history, economy and politics to religion, arts, culture, cuisine, and business. We have delved into the American Japanese experience as well. CJS guest speakers are from the tops of their fields, and some, including world renowned scholars such as Donald Keene, Carol Gluck, and Richard Samuels, have returned multiple times to the delight of audiences.

Sampling of Past Lectures

Meet Three Center for Japanese Studies Distinguished Lecturers

Donald Keene, one of the most respected Japanologists in the world, visited PSU on several occasions. He was University Professor Emeritus and Shinchō Professor Emeritus of Columbia University, and the first non-Japanese scholar to receive the Imperial Order of culture (November 2008).

Professor Keene was also the mentor of CJS Artistic Director Laurence Kominz, and attended a performance of the CJS production of the Revenge of the Loyal 47 Samurai, staged and directed by Professor Kominz in 2016. Professor Keene took pleasure in helping to celebrate the production’s success.

 Sadly, he passed away on February 24, 2019 at the age of 96.

Presentations at PSU include the following:
May 7, 2005, "The United States and Japan: Their Postwar Literary Connection"
April 16, 2009, "World War II and Japanese Writers: A Journey through their Diaries"
April 17, 2009, "Behind the Scenes with Mishima Yukio; A Conversation with Donald Keene"


Photo of Donald Keene

Carol Gluck is the George Sansom Professor of History at Columbia University and widely considered one of the foremost historians in the world. She specializes in modern Japan, from the late nineteenth century to the present; international relations; World War II, and history-writing and public memory in Asia and the West. Her lectures at PSU have been exceedingly popular, with attendance consistently approaching or surpassing 200 people. She is a gifted speaker as well as a highly revered scholar.

Presentations include the following

15 October, 2009, “Patterns of Change: A Unified Theory of Japanese History”
January 30, 2014, “Modernity in Common: Japan and World History”
March 2, 2017, “What the World Owes the Comfort Women”
February 6, 2020, “Postwar Japan: A Prepostmortem”

Photo of Carol Gluck

Richard Samuels is Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for International Studies at MIT. He also author of Special Duty: A History of the Japanese Intelligence Community; 3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan, and Securing Japan; and Tokyo's Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs).

Professor Samuels is a renowned scholar who fills the lecture hall every time he visits PSU. His Past lectures for the CJS include the following:

May 12, 2005, “Japanese Security Policy–The Times They are a Changing”
May 12, 2011,  “Japan-China-U.S. Relations”
November 8, 2013, “3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan”
November 21, 2019, “Special Duty: A History of the Japanese Intelligence Community”

During his November 2013 visit, Professor Samuels’ wife Debra Samuels, who is author of The Japanese Table, delighted a small CJS audience with an Obento cooking demonstration at Biwa Restaurant.

Photo of Richard Samuals