Welcome Emily Simpson, a Japanese scholar for 2019-20

This academic year, Japanese scholar Emily Simpson will teach the following courses:

  • In 19F, REL 19.29 (12) Women and Religion in Japan
  • In 20W, REL 19.31 (2) Religions of Japan
  • In 20S, REL 19.32 (10) Shinto: Foundations, Festivals, & Fox Shrines

Prof. Simpson earned her B.A. from Vassar College and both her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Barbara in East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies. She has also studied at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, under a Fulbright IIE Graduate Research Fellowship.

Her research centers on the legend of Empress Jingū, a third century shaman, empress and conquerer appearing in early Japanese chronicles. While this legend has gone through myriad permutations for well over a thousand years, Simpson pays particular attention to the medieval reinterpretations of Jingū’s legend within various Buddhist and Shinto traditions and their subsequent impact on the formation of women’s cults centered on the empress. Her dissertation, entitled “Crafting a Goddess: Divinization, Womanhood and Genre in Narratives of Empress Jingū,” explores how diverse religious institutions divinized Empress Jingū, focusing on her martial and shamanic deeds, her motherhood and childbirth, or her connections to maritime deities and communities. Simpson teaches courses on women and religion in Japan, Japanese religious traditions, Shinto, and Buddhism of Japan and Korea. Welcome, Professor Simpson!