College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Eric C. Rath, Ph.D.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - History
Ph.D., Premodern Japanese History, University of Michigan
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall
Room 3624
University of Kansas
1445 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045


My specialization is in premodern Japanese cultural history particularly "traditional" dietary cultures.


Ph.D., Premodern Japanese History, University of Michigan

M.A., Japanese History, University of Michigan

B.A., History, Skidmore College


I teach courses in premodern Japanese history and Japanese dietary cultures including "History of Sushi" and "Beer, Sake, and Tea: Beverages in Japanese History."

Teaching Interests

  • Premodern Japan
  • Japanese dietary cultures
  • Tibet


As a historian, I am interested in how groups, institutions, and governments attempt to designate normative practices by appealing to what is identified as "tradition," the dynamic array of customs, familial claims, rituals, and artifacts, which are created, repurposed and displayed in exercises of power by professions and to serve the ideology of the state. Scholars have viewed "tradition" as a product of the rise of the modern nation. However, my training as a historian of premodern Japan enables me to investigate in the longue durée how the invention of tradition is part of a longer historical strategy in the construction of authority. My research documents the development of arts, ideas, and customs synonymous with national culture today and I endeavor to restore contingency, change, conflict, and heterogeneity into these otherwise hegemonic narratives of "tradition." I am currently writing a book on the history of food in Japan and the chapter on medieval culture for the New Cambridge History of Japan.

Research Interests

  • Premodern Japan
  • Japanese dietary cultures

Selected Publications

Rath, E. & Stalker, N. (2018). Afterword: Foods of Japan, Not Japanese Food. In , Devouring Japan: Global Perspectives on Japanese Culinary Identity (pp. 312-27). New York: Oxford University Press.

Rath, E. C. (2017). “Historical Reflections on Culinary Globalization in East Asia”. Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies, 17(3), 82-84.

Rath, E. Niehaus, A. & Walravens, T. (2017). For Gluttons not Housewives, Japan’s First Gourmet Magazine, Kuidōraku. In , Feeding Japan: The Cultural and Political Issues of Dependency and Risk (pp. 83-111). Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rath, E. C. (2016). Hell's Kitchen and the Joy of Cooking: Culinary Themes in Kumano Mandala. Impressions, 106-127.

Rath, E. (2016). Japan's Cuisines: Food, Place and Identity, London: Reaktion Books.

Goldstein, D. & Rath, E. (2015). Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, Oxford University Press.

Rath, E. C. (2015). Sex and Sea Bream: Food and Prostitution in Hishikawa Moronobu’s 'A Visit to the Yoshiwara'. In , Seduction: Japan's Floating World: The John C. Weber Collection ed. Laura W. Allen (pp. 28-43). San Francisco, CA: Asian Art Museum .

Rath, E. C., & Farrer, J. (2015). The Invention of Local Food. In , The Globalization and Asian Cuisine: Transnational Networks and Culinary Contact Zones (pp. 145-64). Palgrave Macmillan Publishers.

Rath, E. C., & Helstosky, C. (2015). The Magic of Japanese Rice Cakes. In , Routledge History of Food (pp. 3-18). New York: Routledge Press.

Rath, E. C. (2013). The Tastiest Dish in Edo: Print, Performance, and Culinary Culture in Early Modern Japan. East Asian Publishing and Society, 3(2), 184-214.

Rath, E. C. (2010). Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan, University of California Press.

Rath, E. C., Rath, E. C., & Assmann, S. (2010). Japanese Foodways Past and Present, University of Illinois Press.

Rath, E. C. (2004). The Ethos of Noh: Actors and Their Art, Harvard University Asia Center Press.

» Show All Publications

Selected Presentations

(05/08/2018 - 05/11/2018). "Food technology in Japan and Taiwan: a comparison made on field work". Workshop on Food Technology. National Chi Nan University, Taiwan

Rath, E. . (12/07/2017). Eating Contests in Early Modern Japanese Entertainment Media. Center for Japanese Studies. University of Michigan. Available Here

Rath, E. C. (03/31/2017). “Writing an “International” Cuisine in Japan: Murai Gensai’s 1903 Culinary Novel Kuidōraku”. Culinary Nationalism in Asia. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Available Here

Selected Awards & Honors

Japan's Cuisines: Food, Place and Identity (Reaktion Books) Named to Choice's List of Outstanding Academic Titles for 2017
2017 - Present

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