East Asian Studies at IU
Teaching across Disciplinary and Cultural Boundaries
Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures
From studies of schooling in the Tokugawa period to the expansion of literacy across social and geographic boundaries, Richard Rubinger’s scholarship straddles traditional academic designations, reflecting his training in Japanese history and comparative education. In his recently published book, Popular Literacy in Early Modern Japan, he traces the development of literacy among Japan’s commoner populations from the late 16th through the early 20th centuries, focusing on the role of village headmen as mediators of literacy and culture.
As a member of a research group studying literacy in Japan, Rubinger has also helped organize a series of academic symposia, including the EASC-co-sponsored “History of Popular Literacy in Japan: Searching for Signatures” conference in 2006. This conference brought Japanese scholars together with IU faculty and graduate students to examine how individual marks on early modern documents can be used to measure literacy among different sectors of Japanese society during the Tokugawa period.
Rubinger’s teaching takes him across disciplinary and cultural boundaries. In addition to courses on Japanese education and history, he teaches advanced Japanese language courses and has co-taught “Education Reform in China and Japan,” an EASC-sponsored course and study tour in which he and co-instructor Heidi Ross led undergraduate students from the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences on a two-week exploration of rural and urban schools in China and Japan. “Seeing firsthand how national policy and local practice part ways in each country made education come alive for these students,” he says, “both as object of study and as experience."