Christina M. Spiker

Christina M. Spiker

Art Historian | Professor | Digital Humanist

Digital // Utagawa Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō (StoryMapJS)


This exploration of print artist Utagawa Hiroshige’s (1797-1861) Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō was a collaborative project completed by the students in my history course Japanese Civilization at St. Olaf College during J-Term 2016. Students were each responsible for researching the local history and woodblock print associated with two stations along the famous Tōkaidō road. This research was then visualized in StoryMapJS, which helps create connections between the physical map, the significance of place, and the artistic representation of it. After the completion of the digital project, students were asked to write a paper comparing one of their sites with 3 other locations along the route completed by their peers.

Project shared online with written permission by each student in the course.

Course // Japanese Civilization (St. Olaf College)


Japanese Civilization
HISTORY 252 | St. Olaf COllege


This course is an introduction to Japanese civilization from its beginnings in the Jōmon period through WWII. We take a multidisciplinary approach grounded in history to examine the development of Japanese culture and literature, in addition to religion, art, and popular culture; political institutions such as the monarchy, the shogunate, and the samurai class; and social and economic change. In addition to examining the lifestyles of the elite, this course also puts emphasis on the lives of ordinary people and minorities in Japan. Many of the assigned readings are literary works in translation, and we will evaluate them as both aesthetic works and as works of historical value. We will also examine Japan’s relationship with the outside world as a way to reflect on Japan’s values, institutions, invented traditions, and historical heritage. This course carries general education credit in MCG and major credit in History and Asian Studies. It also counts toward the Japan Studies concentration.