Denis Gainty was a historian of modern Japan and the world. His writing explored how Japanese people have used a range of concepts — traditional and modernity, individual and community, physical and spiritual, self and other — to create and recreate themselves through everyday activities and experience in the modern age. From samurai and shamisen to physical education and fiddle tunes, Denis’s work investigated the history of ideas and practices that have connected Japan to itself and the larger world.
Denis received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations in 2007. At Georgia State, Denis taught undergraduate and graduate courses in world history, Japanese and East Asian history, history of sports and physical culture, and pedagogy. He also led study abroad programs in Japan. Denis was past-president and secretary of the Southeast World History Association, served on the Executive Council of the World History Association, and was previously editor of the World History Bulletin.
Denis’s publications included several book chapters and articles, translations of Japanese scholarship, and a world history reader. His first monograph, Martial Arts and the Body Politic in Meiji Japan, explored the importance of martial arts for Japanese visions of nation and state in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was published in 2013 by Routledge. At the time of his passing, Denis was writing a book on the history of bluegrass music in Japan. With colleagues at GSU and in Kyoto, he also spearheaded a collaborative effort to create a globally accessible virtual reality experience depicting the environmental, historical, and cultural issues around a traditional Japanese farmhouse.
When not teaching and writing in America and Japan, Denis spent time with his family and picked a little mandolin in Atlanta, Georgia.