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A Lord, a Pauper, and an Artist

Humanities Forum with Constantine Vaporis



Date & Time

December 2, 2021, 4:00 pm5:30 pm


The Dresher Center for the Humanities presents:

A Lord, a Pauper, and an Artist: Putting People Back into Samurai History

Constantine N. Vaporis, Professor of History; Affiliate Faculty in Asian Studies and Gender, Women’s, + Sexuality Studies, UMBC

The samurai are a staple of popular culture. Yet, too often they have been viewed in formal history writing, museum exhibits, film, and anime as monolithic: a group of fierce warriors, driven by a fixed moral code, bent on dying in service to a military lord, or daimyo. The reality is much more complex, nuanced, and arguably far more interesting. In this talk, Constantine Vaporis draws on the biographies of samurai from across Japan—including a lord, an impoverished vassal, and an artist—to weave the larger story of how the samurai changed from largely illiterate warriors tied to the land to an urban, cultured, and largely salaried, bureaucratic elite with a proud martial tradition. He argues that this transformation was critical to the vitality of the Tokugawa or early modern era (1603-1868) and to one of the longest periods of peace in global history. He also explores the challenges of writing the history of a diverse social group that existed for more than two-and-a-half centuries.

Photo: Marlayna Demond '11

Sponsored by the the Dresher Center for the Humanities; the Asian Studies Program; and the Department of History.

UMBC is committed to creating an accessible and inclusive environment for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors. To request additional accessibility accommodations, please contact us at dreshercenter@umbc.edu.

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