Thomas Donald Conlan

Professor of East Asian Studies and History
Office Phone
207 Jones Hall

Thomas Conlan, Professor of East Asian Studies and History, explores how processes such as warfare, or ritual performance, determined the politics, ideals, and social matrix of Japan from the tenth through the sixteenth centuries. Majoring in Japanese and History at the University of Michigan, he attended graduate school at Stanford University. Professor Conlan’s first published work, In Little Need of Divine Intervention: Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan, introduced new sources about the Mongol Invasions. In this work, he argued that the Japanese defenders were capable of fighting the Mongol invaders to a standstill. His next monograph, State of War: The Violent Order of Fourteenth-Century Japan, based on his Ph.D. dissertation, revealed how warfare transformed the social, political, and intellectual matrix of fourteenth-century Japan. He then wrote a general history of the samurai, entitled Weapons and Fighting Techniques of the Samurai Warrior, 1200-1877, which was revised and reprinted as Samurai Weapons and Fighting Techniques. He also completed a translation of Samurai and the Warrior Culture of Japan: A Sourcebook 471-1877. In his book From Sovereign to Symbol: An Age of Ritual Determinism in Fourteenth-Century Japan, Professor Conlan analyzed the nature of political thought in medieval Japan. Currently Professor Conlan is exploring the role of religion and politics in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and argues that the Ōuchi, a daimyo of western Japan, were the central figures of their age.


B.A. in History and Japanese, University of Michigan 1989
Phi Beta Kappa 1989
M.A. in History, Stanford University 1992
Ph.D. in History Stanford University 1998

Area of Interest
(In alphabetical order)
Cultural History
Economic History
History of Technology
Intellectual History
Legal History
Material Culture
Military History
Political History
Race & Ethnicity
Social History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
East Asian Studies
6th through 14th Centuries
15th & 16th Centuries