Matthew Mitchell

Title: Visiting Assistant Professor
Department: History
Other Departments: Religious Studies
B.A., Illinois Wesleyan University;
M.A., University of Hawaii at Manoa;
Ph.D., Duke University

Contact Information

Phone: (814) 332-3503
Office Location:  Arter Hall, Room 202A

Student Hours: Fall 2022

Monday 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Tuesday 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Thursday 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Or by appointment


Areas of Specialization

East Asian Religions
Women and Religions
Lived Religions


Areas of Teaching Competence

Asian Religions
Asian History


Current Work

Buddhist Nuns and Society in 17th-20th Century Japan
Lived Religion in Japanese Cities



  • “Going with the Flow and yet Controlling the Flow: The Early Life, Education, and Scholarship of Takatsukasa Seigyoku, Current Abbess of Zenkōji’s Daihongan Convent,” International Journal of Dharma Studies 4/1: 1-24.
  • “Review of The Princess Nun: Bunchi, Buddhist Reform, and Gender in Early Edo Japan, by Gina Cogan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 41/2: 405-408.
  • “Review of Hokkeji and the Reemergence of Female Monastic Orders in Premodern Japan, by Lori Meeks.”  Journal of Religion in Japan 1, no. 1 (February 2012): 115 – 119.
  • Translation of Nagasawa Sōhei, “Minzoku girei to nichijōteki shintai keiken (Bodily Experience in Everyday Life and Folkloric Ritual: The Case of Take-Kagura in Iwate Prefecture),” Shūkyō kenkyū 83, no. 1 (June 2009): 161 – 181.


Recent Conference Presentations

  • “Conventional Economics and Irregular Expenditures: Money and the Place of Zenkōji Daihongan in Early Modern Japan,” Stanley Weinstein Dissertation Award Presentation, April 5, 2018, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
  • “Conventional Economics: Money as a Window into Zenkōji’s Daihongan Convent and Its Place in Local Society,” Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, March 22-25, 2018, Washington, D.C.
  • “Downtown Dharma: Popular Religious Festivals and Urban Space in Nineteenth-Century Japan,” “You Are Here”: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Place, Space, and Embodiment, March 23-24, 2018, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • “When the Buddha Loses Your Money: An Examination of a Failed Buddhist Financial Confraternity in Nineteenth-Century Japan,” Buddhism and Business, Market and Merit: Intersections between Buddhism and Economics Past and Present, June 16–18, 2017, Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • “Viewing the Vernacular: Popular Practices as Recorded in the Works of Kōriki Tanenobu (1756–1831),” Changing Figures in Japanese Vernacular Religions, April 28, 2017, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Respondent for panel “Mountaineering religion in Asia and beyond,” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, November 19-22, 2016, San Antonio, Texas.
  • “How I Meditated with Your Mother: Speed Dating at Buddhist Temples in Japan,” The 2016 Conference on Buddhist Tourism in Asia: Sacred Sites within Global Networks, April 9-10, 2016, Corvallis, Oregon.
  •   “Skewering Fortune: Temple Fundraising Lotteries in Early Modern Japan, with a focus on Zenkōji’s Daihongan Convent,” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, November 21-24, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • “Ordination, Education, Individual Choice, and Social Context in the Construction and Deployment of Buddhist Femininities in Early Modern Japan,” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, November 22-25, 2014, San Diego, California.
  • “Conflicts and Compromises: The Relationship between Zenkōji’s Daihongan Convent and Daikanjin Monastery,” 53rd Annual Meeting of the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, January 17-19, 2014, Durham, North Carolina.
  • “Displaying the Treasury of Loyal Retainers (Chūshingura): Relics, Popular Culture, and Buddhist Images at Sengakuji,” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, November 23-26, 2013, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • “Beyond the Convent Walls: the Networks and Travels of Daihongan’s Abbesses in the 19th Century,” Women and Networks in Nineteenth Century Japan, June 8, 2013, Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan.
  • “Nuns without Borders: The Local and National Lives of Daihongan’s Nuns in Early Modern Japan,” Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, March 21-24, 2013, San Diego, California.
  • “Nuns at the Intersection of Status and Gender: The Conflicts and Compromises of Daihongan’s Nuns in Early Modern Japan,” Early Modern Japan Network, March 21, 2013, San Diego, California.
  • “Networks of Obligation: the Lives and Connections of Daihongan’s Nuns in Early Modern Japan,” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Nov. 16-20, 2012, Chicago, Illinois.