Areas of Expertise
- East Asian History
My main research interest is how people negotiate their identities in the process of war and defeat. My book manuscript deals with the Jokyu War of 1221, in which I trace the conflict between the rival power centers of Kyoto and Kamakura and try to unravel many of the myths that took place as both warriors and courtiers forged new identities in the wake of the debacle. My other research interests include other moments of war and defeat in East Asian history, particularly times of conflict between China, Japan and Korea such as the 7th century Korean Unification Wars, the Imjin War of the 1590s, and the conflicts of the 20th century.
I believe engagement with primary sources, despite their difficulty, is the key to understanding history and learning how to interpret information we receive even today. I encourage students to read this challenging material to not only exercise their ability to glean complex issues surrounding the culture and politics of a given society, but to think critically about our own world and how similar human problems are across time and space.
HIST 215 - The World of the Samurai
HIST 362 - Chinese Civilization
HIST 363 - Japanese Civilization
HIST 364 - Modern Japan
HIST 460/560 - History of China Since 1800
HIST 614 - War, Identity, and Memory in Early Modern East Asia
McCarty, Michael B. (2020) A Monk for All Seasons: Visions of Jien (1155-1225) in Medieval Japan. vol. 80. no. 1. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies.
McCarty, Michael B. (2020) “‘Heaven Revealed its Hidden Mercy:’ Chinese Allusions as Moral Judgement in the Medieval Japanese Narrative Record of Surprising Events”. Rethinking the Sinosphere: Poetics, Aesthetics, and Identity Formation. Cambria Press.
McCarty, Michael B. (2019) Land, Power, and the Sacred: The Estate System in Medieval Japan. Edited by Janet R. Goodwin and Joan R. Piggott. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018. xxxvii, 532 pp. ISBN: 9780824872939 (cloth). vol. 78. no. 03. pp. 679-681. The Journal of Asian Studies.
McCarty, Michael B., Perreault, Mimi Wiggins and Perreault, Gregory (2019) Marketing Gaming for Girls: The Framing of Princess Zelda in American and Japanese Nintendo Commercials. Beyond Princess Culture: Gender and Children’s Marketing. Peter Lang US.
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- PresentationsAll the Ex-Emperor’s Men: Divided Loyalties and Interpersonal Ties in the Jōkyū DisturbanceMarch 2014Association for Asian Studies, Philadelphia, PAIn the Jōkyū Disturbance of 1221, the retired emperor Go-Toba (1180-1239) embarked on a war to uproot the warrior government known as the Kamakura Bakufu. Though Go-Toba called on all warriors of the land to join his campaign, few outside of his personal guard rallied to his cause, and he was defeated and sent into exile within a month. Drawing insights from texts that have never been studied in English, this paper recovers the complex reasons that helped determine who was receptive to Go-Toba’s overtures. Though much work has been done to evaluate the men who joined the retired emperor, these studies have hinged their explanations solely on the matter of economic gain, restricting the explanation of Go-Toba’s support to his officer’s self-interest. This paper examines key Bakufu soldiers who defected to Go-Toba to recapture the idiosyncratic and highly personal motivations that shaped the Jōkyū Disturbance. This approach reveals the primacy of interpersonal relations—rather than overarching ideas of loyalty or social identity—for people in medieval Japan. The patchwork nature of the imperial army reminds us that the Jōkyū Disturbance was no oppositional showdown between court and Bakufu writ large. Furthermore, the fact that Go-Toba’s supporters joined him for reasons unrelated to his imperial authority or even his economic largesse gives us cause to reevaluate our understanding of divine kingship in pre-modern society more broadly.
History, Memory and Authority in the “Post-Jōkyū” WorldAugust 2017European Association for Japanese Studies, Lisbon, PortugalThe Jōkyū Disturbance of 1221, in which powerful retired emperor Go-Toba was exiled after military defeat by the Kamakura Bakufu, rent the fabric of Japanese political ideology. The fact that a “heavenly sovereign” of the Japanese throne had been defeated by a warrior government with no such claims to divine authority posed deep problems for theodicy, kingship and authority. In the aftermath of the Jōkyū Disturbance, however, it was ironically tales on events before 1221 that most caught the attention of medieval writers. The texts that did discuss Jōkyū were much less inventive and prolific, never becoming enshrined in the pre-modern cultural imagination like works about the earlier Genpei War (1180–85). Yet precisely because the Jōkyū corpus had a relatively contracted period of textual development, the majority of Jōkyū texts predate the majority of narratives about the Genpei War. Thus, we are left with a historiographical time-warp: texts on the later Jōkyū event give an earlier picture of Kamakura society than their Genpei cousins, while texts ostensibly about the twelfth century reflect the changed realities of warrior and court power after 1221. Building upon the suggestion of some scholars that all war tales written after 1221 betray a “post-Jōkyū historical consciousness,” this paper will evaluate the intersections of history, memory, and authority in a variety of writings from the Kamakura period (1185–1333). In this “broad” thirteenth century, texts on past conflicts inevitably created the position of the retired emperor as a touchstone for issues of power and (mis)rule. I will argue that the figure of Go-Toba, the sovereign whose mismanagement of affairs led to open conflict between court and Bakufu, looms behind the portrayal of other emperors in war tales describing the earlier Hōgen (1156), Heiji (1159), and Genpei (1185) wars, revealing the changing ideology of kingship and power in the thirteenth century. These and other parallels between Jōkyū and earlier conflicts also suggests medieval writers were more comfortable confronting the problems of 1221 indirectly through discussion of earlier events, forcing scholars to think more carefully about our conceptions of genre, periodization, and memory in pre-modern Japan.
Identity and Nationality in the Japanese Rock Debate: or How English Rock Lyrics Came to a ‘Happy End'November 2019Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference, Bloomington, INIn the early 1970s Japanese rock music underwent a revolution, not in musical style but in lyrics. Most rock bands since the 1960s from the so-called “Group Sounds” genre—heavily influenced by British and American rock & roll—had preferred to set their rock music to lyrics in English. But newly emerging bands such as Happy End began advocating making rock with Japanese lyrics. A battle between these two approaches marked publications in the new Japanese rock press, and manifested itself in the commercial and critical success of the songs and albums released by 70s rock bands on both sides. The eventual success of Happy End’s approach led to the wholesale adoption of Japanese lyrics by all future rock bands and J-pop bands today. More than a historical curiosity, this “Japanese rock debate” was a site where enduring conflicts of identity, culture, nationalism and self-expression could be negotiated. For their part, advocates of English lyrics had intriguing ideas of how rock music was a universal medium not tied to national differences, while their opponents saw music and lyrics as a personal or national expression for which a "foreign" language was inadequate. Yet, ironically, the artists who embraced Japanese lyrics were often accused of producing music that was more imitative of western music than that of their counterparts. I argue these tensions of identity and culture are not unique to Japan, but are endemic in the spread of globalized mass culture and the history of the modern nation-state itself.
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Undergraduate Curriculum Committee
Honors Convocation Committee
Fulton Student Grant Committee
- Press Releases
SU's McCarty Discusses 'Before the Travel Pan: Japanese Americans in the 20th Century' April 5
Thursday, April 05, 2018