Eric C. Rath, Ph.D.

Humanities - History
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall, 3624
University of Kansas
1445 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045


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


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, Eric. 2018. “Afterword: Foods of Japan, Not Japanese Food.” Book Chapters. In Devouring Japan: Global Perspectives on Japanese Culinary Identity, edited by Nancy Stalker, 312–27. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rath, Eric. 2017. “For Gluttons Not Housewives, Japan’s First Gourmet Magazine, Kuidōraku.” Book Chapters. In Feeding Japan: The Cultural and Political Issues of Dependency and Risk<br>, edited by Andreas Niehaus and Tine Walravens, 83–111. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.
Rath, Eric C. 2017. “‘Historical Reflections on Culinary Globalization in East Asia.’” Journal Articles. Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies 17 (3): 82–84.
Rath, Eric. 2016. Japan’s Cuisines: Food, Place and Identity. Books. London: Reaktion Books.
Rath, Eric C. 2016. “Hell’s Kitchen and the Joy of Cooking: Culinary Themes in Kumano Mandala.” Journal Articles. Impressions, March, 106–27.
Rath, Eric C. 2015. “The Invention of Local Food.” Book Chapters. In The Globalization and Asian Cuisine: Transnational Networks and Culinary Contact Zones, edited by James Farrer, 145–64. Palgrave Macmillan Publishers.
Goldstein, Darra, and Eric Rath, eds. 2015. Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Books. Oxford University Press.
Rath, Eric C. 2015. “Sex and Sea Bream: Food and Prostitution in Hishikawa Moronobu’s ‘A Visit to the Yoshiwara.’” Book Chapters. In Seduction: Japan’s Floating World: The John C. Weber Collection Ed. Laura W. Allen, 28–43. San Francisco, CA: Asian Art Museum .
Rath, Eric C. 2015. “The Magic of Japanese Rice Cakes.” Book Chapters. In Routledge History of Food, edited by Carol Helstosky, 3–18. New York: Routledge Press.
Rath, Eric C. 2013. “The Tastiest Dish in Edo: Print, Performance, and Culinary Culture in Early Modern Japan.” Journal Articles. East Asian Publishing and Society 3 (2): 184–214.
Rath, Eric C. 2010. Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan. Books. University of California Press.
Rath, Eric C. 2010. Japanese Foodways Past and Present. Books. Edited by Eric C. Rath and Stephanie Assmann. University of Illinois Press.
Rath, Eric C. 2004. The Ethos of Noh: Actors and Their Art. Books. Harvard University Asia Center Press.

Selected Presentations

Rath, E. (5/8/2018 - 5/11/2018). Food technology in Japan and Taiwan: a comparison made on field work. Workshop on Food Technology. National Chi Nan University, Taiwan
Rath, E. (12/7/2017). Eating Contests in Early Modern Japanese Entertainment Media. Center for Japanese Studies. University of Michigan.
Rath, E. C. (3/31/2017). “Writing an “International” Cuisine in Japan: Murai Gensai’s 1903 Culinary Novel Kuidōraku”. Culinary Nationalism in Asia. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

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