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 Fiction and Historical Fiction 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 historical narratives and popular culture in Japan, and I am especially interested in how samurai have been reimagined in the 20th and 21st centuries. My first book The Afterlife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi: Historical Fiction and Popular Culture in Japan was published in 2022, and I am now working on a second book about women writers of historical fiction in Japan. I am also an active translator.

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. I also advise students applying to the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).

What I love about teaching at Beloit is that faculty are free to create innovative courses that help students develop incredible skills they can carry with them well beyond their time here. Beloit students are interested and interesting learners in every sense of the word, so they bring a lot to the classroom.

When I am not working, I love writing, listening to music, watching and playing sports, hiking, and camping.

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