Home / Dr. Ellen Van GOETHEM


My research focuses on the Asuka, Nara, and Heian periods, particularly on the layout of Chinese-style capital cities, on religious and philosophical thought underpinning the construction of these cities, and on inscribed wooden tablets (mokkan). I have published on Japan’s ancient capital cities and site divination practices in East Asia. Drawing on 16 years of teaching experience in Europe and Japan, I offer courses on ancient Japanese history, material culture, and thought; bungo and kanbun; and East-West encounters. I have also translated several works on contemporary Japanese architecture into English. Nagaoka, Japan’s Forgotten Capital (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2008). ‘Interroger le paysage: À la recherche des quatre divinités protégeant les capitales japonaises de style chinois’, in Benoit Jacquet, Philippe Bonnin and Nishida Masatsugu, eds., Dispositifs et notions de la spatialité japonaise (Lausanne: Presses Polytechniques Universitaires Romandes, 2014), 81–100. ‘The Four Directional animals in East Asia: A Comparative Analysis’, in Florian Reiter, ed., Feng Shui (Kan Yu) and Architecture (Asien- und Afrikastudien der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 38) (Berlin: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2011), 201–16. ‘The Status of Descendants of the Baekje Kingdom during Emperor Kanmu’s Reign’, in Korea Journal 47:2 (Summer 2007), 136–59.


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