Summer Institute For College and University Teachers - Tokyo: High City and Low City, 4 – 30 June 2016, USA

Publish Date: Feb 01, 2016

Deadline: Mar 01, 2016

Event Dates: from Jun 04, 2016 12:00 to Jun 30, 2016 12:00

Purpose and Aim

The megalopolis of Tokyo has for over four hundred years occupied a position of unique significance. Born from dynamic intersections of culture spanning literature, religion, and philosophy, Tokyo has stood as a locus for innovations that have at once reflected and exerted an important impact on worldwide modernization over the past century and a half. Twin tendencies, one toward insular traditionalism and a penchant for conserving legacy and the other toward extensive transformation and the diffusion of influential creativity, continue to compete and complement one another in defining the urban center. This makes for a remarkable story of a historically significant yet continuously developing global cityscape that represents an inventive resource for exploring diverse aspects of Japanese identity vis-à-vis East Asia and the world.

The Summer Institute titled Tokyo: High City and Low City is designed to lead participants in an in-depth humanistic exploration of the literary, religious, and philosophical movements that have visibly—and invisibly—contributed to the construction of modern Japan. By providing a platform in each session for a focused yet flexible investigation into the markers of tradition and modernity in Japan’s capital city, we will infuse college teachers with new critical knowledge of diverse local and global perspectives on Japanese identity. Participants will sharpen analytical skills and engage in interactive Socratic discussion of popular/peripheral and official/elite narratives of development, cultural character, and modernity—particularly as these relate to an Asian civilization creating ways to at once integrate and differentiate itself in a Western-dominated world. The Institute is meant to inspire new thought on what it means to understand world civilizations from diverse geo-cultural perspectives. It also aims to bolster the enrichment of course syllabi and professional research by injecting and inspiring an understanding of the interplay between traditional and modern, and global and local factors in the construction, deconstruction, and transformation of one city representing the multidimensional collective identity of Japan.


Through a reading of key literary works and select secondary sources, participants will engage in focused study of four main themes, one apportioned to each week, to examine the variegated developments in Tokyo’s High City and Low City over the past one hundred and fifty years. These themes will be:

  • Approaches: how the cultural history of Tokyo has developed since the early modern era and continues to unfold as seen from the standpoint of global and comparative perspectives.
  • Authority: how Japan’s institutions of power, influence, and control have been constructed and promulgated using examples of Tokyo neighborhoods mainly located in the High City.
  • Aesthetics: how cultural identity has been represented and negotiated in literature and fine arts by evoking instances of contestations and comingling in the Low City and High City.
  • Ambiguities: how people and places located outside of the main power structures cope and try to emerge from marginalized status focusing primarily on the Low City.

Should You Apply?

Should You Apply?

This NEH Summer Institute seeks applications from scholars from across the country who are working in various disciplines and world regions. It is open to senior and junior faculty, including adjuncts, and there are also several slots for selected graduate students. Should you have any questions about your eligibility or qualifications, please do not hesitate to contact project director, Dr. Steven Heine, at

The Tokyo: High City and Low City will accept a wide range of scholars, including but not limited to those with a background or interest in Japanse culture. No prior studies of Japan is required, and we encourage both specialists and non-specialists to apply. While scholars focusing on Asian Studies, history, religious studies, literature, art history, and anthropology will find the institute attractive, we encourage applicants from any field who are interested in urban culture as seen from a variety of perspectives , regardless of their disciplinary, regional, or chronological interests.

Participants need not have extensive prior knowledge of urban studies or have previously incorporated the study of cities into any of their courses or research. However, your application essay should identify concrete ways in which four weeks of concentration on the topic will enhance your teaching and/or research. The ideal institute participant will bring to the group a fresh understanding of the relevance of the topic to their teaching and research.


These projects are designed primarily for teachers of American undergraduate students. Qualified independent scholars and those employed by museums, libraries, historical societies, and other organizations may be eligible to compete provided they can effectively advance the teaching and research goals of the seminar or institute.

Applicants must be United States citizens, residents of U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign nationals who have been residing in the United States or its territories for at least the three years immediately preceding the application deadline. Foreign nationals teaching abroad at non-U.S. chartered institutions are not eligible to apply.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are reserved for current fulltime graduate students in the humanities. An applicant need not have an advanced degree in order to qualify. Adjunct and part-time lecturers are eligible to apply. Individuals may not apply to study with a director of an NEH Summer Seminar or Institute who is a current colleague or a family member. Individuals must not apply to seminars directed by scholars with whom they have studied.

Institute selection committees are advised that only under the most compelling and exceptional circumstances may an individual participate in an institute with a director or a lead faculty member who has guided that individual’s research or in whose previous institute or seminar he or she has participated. Applicants must complete the NEH application cover sheet and provide all the information requested on the individual seminar or institute website to be considered eligible.

How to Apply

Click here to read the complete 2016 Higher Ed. Application Information and Instructions (PDF).

Before you attempt to complete an application, please study the project website, which contains detailed information about the topic under study, project requirements and expectations of the participants, the academic and institutional setting, and specific provisions for lodging and subsistence. All application materials must be sent to the project director at the


A complete application consists of the following collated items:

  • The completed application cover sheet
  • A detailed resume, curriculum vitae, or brief biography with contact information for two professional references
  • An application essay as outlined below.


Completed applications should be submitted to the Project Director (Dr. Steven Heine), not the NEH, and should be sent no later than March 1, 2016. Please email the application directly to

Successful applicants will be notified of their selection on Thursday, March 31, 2016, and they will have until Thursday, April 7 to accept or decline the offer.

Once you have accepted an offer to attend any NEH Summer Program (NEH Summer Seminar or Institute), you may not accept an additional offer or withdraw in order to accept a different offer.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

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Eligible Countries

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Host Countries

United States