Harold Bolitho

Harold Bolitho at Monash, 1985

Harold Bolitho (3 January 1939 – 23 October 2010) was an Australian academic, historian, author and professor emeritus in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University[1] The name Bolitho is of Cornish origin.[2]


Bolitho received his B.A. from the University of Melbourne in 1961 and his M.A., M.Phil, and Ph.D. degrees from YaleIn 1985, Bolitho was granted tenure as a Professor of Japanese History at Harvard.[3] He was Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies from 1988 through 1991.[4]

Formerly, Bolitho was a member of the faculty of Monash University[3] and he taught at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. Bolitho was a Visiting Professor at the Research Institute for Humanities at the University of Kyoto in 1989;[5] and he has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.[6]

Japanese studies

According to Bolitho, the post-war development of Japanese studies in English-speaking countries was characterized by unexpected growth;[7] and he helped to foster that expansion.

Bolitho's research interests included Tokugawa institutions, the Bakumatsu and the Meiji Restoration, with an emphasis on regionalism.[8] In his 1969 doctoral dissertation, "The Fudai Daimyo and the Tokogawa Settlement," he refined a distinctive point of view about the fudai daimyo and the bakufu. He argued that it was the collective power of the fudai and their competing interests that prevented the accumulation of unfettered power by the central government. He argued that "historians, believing too readily that the fudai were more bureaucrats than barons, have ... assumed that they were the model servants of centralized feudalism" and that "an examination of their roles supports no such belief."[9]

In addition to his own work, Bolitho was an editor of Brill Publishers' series, the Japanese Studies Library. The series includes monographs on substantial subjects, thematic collections of articles, handbooks, text editions, and translations.[10]

Australian studies

In commemoration of the United States bicentennial in 1976, the Australian government provided funding for an endowed chair in Australian studies at Harvard. This faculty position rotates yearly among different departments, and former chair holders have come to Harvard from a number of disciplines. This investment in Harvard encouraged an expanded interest in Australian studies. As he was an Australian, it was natural for Bolitho to serve as chair of the Committee on Australian Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.[11]

Selected works

In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about Harold Bolitho, OCLC/WorldCat encompasses roughly 10+ works in 30+ publications in 3 languages and 1,000+ library holdings[12]

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External links

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