B.A. East Asian Studies, DePauw University

M.A. East Asian Studies, Stanford University

Ph.D. East Asian Languages and Cultures, Indiana University

Courses Taught

I teach all levels of Japanese and advanced literature and culture courses in translation. These include:

Nightmare Japan

Totoro Saves the World: Miyazaki Hayao and the
Environmental Imagination

Postwar Japanese Cinema

Japanese Ecocriticism

Japanese Popular Culture in Fiction and Film

Narratives of War and Peace

Japanese Women Writers

In Search of the Samurai

History and Popular Culture in Japan

Research Interests

My research interests include early modern and modern Japanese history, national identity in 20th-century Japan, modern literature, gender, popular culture, and media studies. I am particularly interested in how and why history and popular culture intersect. 


The Afterlife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi: Historical fiction and popular culture in Japan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2022)

“When Women Write History: Nogami Yaeko, Ariyoshi Sawako, and Nagai Michiko.” In Rebecca Copeland, ed, The Handbook of Modern and Contemporary Japanese Women Writers (MHM Limited, 2022).

“Deconstructing the Taikō: The Problem of Hideyoshi as Postwar Business Model.” Mechademia 10: World Renewal – Counterfactual Histories. University of Minnesota Press, vol. 10 (2015), 81-96.

“Nagai Michiko and Ariyoshi Sawako Rewrite the Taikō.” US-Japan Women’s Journal. Sophia University Press, vol. 51 (2017), 59-79.

“A Multimedia Approaches to Teaching Japanese Popular Culture.” Digital Asia, special issue, ASIANetwork Exchange, vol. 25: 2 (2018), 61-81.

Susan Westhafer Furukawa

Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures (Japanese)
Department Chair for Modern Languages and Literatures

 Email:  Phone: 608-363-2931  Office: Room 106, World Affairs Center

My research focuses on the the intersection of history and popular culture in Japan. My first book The Afterlife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi was published in 2022 and looks at how and why the biography of the 16th-century samurai, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was reinterpreted during and immediately after World War II. My current project looks at the ways women writers of historical fiction use the genre to dismantle patriarchal narratives of Japan’s past. 

I teach in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, but my courses are often cross-listed with Critical Identity Studies, Media Studies, and Environmental Studies. In my classes, we look at how the narratives people create are subject to cultural, historical, and sociopolitical influences and examine the ways in which language and stories are often used to curate our understanding of the environment and the world.

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