Skip to main content

Jonathan Dresner

About Jonathan F. Dresner 

Area of Specialization

  • Modern Japan
  • Asian History
  • World History
  • Pedagogy and Historiography

Jonathan Dresner became intrigued with Japan due to a year abroad in high school, continued studying the language and culture in college and settled on an historical approach. An interest in international exchange led to a study of Japanese labor migration to Hawaii in the late 1800s, which has broadened into the study of labor migration and modernization both in Japan and elsewhere, and the belief that the study of human movement is essential to understanding historical processes. After teaching in Iowa and Hawaii, he came to PSU, where he teaches East Asian history, specialized courses on Japan, graduate seminars, and World History surveys.

The combination of World history teaching and the study of migration has led him to regard transnational history as a critical field. A firm believer in the value of an accurate and complex historical perspective for policy debates and cultural understanding, he has been involved in projects bringing history to wider public attention, including East Asian history blogs and the History News Network. He frequently writes academic book reviews for online publication, including World History Connected and H-NET.


  • Ph.D., History, Harvard University, Massachusetts, U.S.A., 2001
  • A.M., History, Harvard University, Massachusetts, U.S.A., 1991
  • B.S, Language (Japanese), Georgetown University, Washington D.C., U.S.A., 1989 

Courses Taught

  • Japan To/Since 1700
  • China To/Since 1700
  • Korean History
  • Historiography and Research Methods
  • Samurai: History, Literature, Mythology
  • History of Japanese Women
  • World History To/Since 1500

Teaching Emphasis

  • East Asia
  • World History
  • Historiography

Areas of Interest

Research Interests
Japanese Social History, Migration, and Modernity

Publications and Presentations


  • "International Labor Migrants' Return to Meiji-era Yamaguchi and Hiroshima: Economic and Social Effects." International Migration, vol. 46, no. 3. (Summer 2008), pp. 65-94. 
  • "Japanese Government Instructions to Emigrant Laborers, 1885-1894,'" pp. 52-68 in Japanese Diasporas: Unsung Pasts, Conflicting Presents and Uncertain Futures, edited by Nobuko Adachi. Routledge, Asia's Transformations series, 2006. Published in Japanese as  [Instructions to Emigrants, 1885-1894] pp. 90-111 in [Japanese Diasporas], Shinseisha, Tokyo, 2008
Jonathan Dresner
Dr. Jonathan Dresner
Associate Professor of History/World History & Asian History

Phone: (620) 235-4315

Office: 412 G Russ Hall

E-mail Jonathan Dresner