Dr. Wayne Tan

Associate Professor of History
Profile photo of Dr. Wayne Tan

At Hope College, Dr. Wayne Tan teaches courses in world history, Japanese history, East Asian cultural history, Russian history, disability history/studies, pandemics and social history, and the history of science and medicine. In his teaching and research, he is passionate about seeking new intersections in the humanities, such as the medical humanities, to broaden conversations about the world we live in today. He is particularly interested in using disability as a window onto the social and material aspects of everyday life in premodern and modern societies. In his courses, he encourages students to think creatively through the analysis of texts, images and media, and to discover for themselves surprising interconnections across cultures and places.

Dr. Tan’s first book, Blind in Early Modern Japan: Disability, Medicine, and Identity (forthcoming with the University of Michigan Press in 2022), considers what the study of blindness in early modern Japanese society (1600–1868) tells us about the diverse experiences of blind people at that time, and also about the surprising ways people then thought about disability.

Dr. Tan’s current book project investigates the scientific and social histories of disability in modern Japan. He has presented his past and current research at professional meetings: the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on the Global Histories of Disability (2018), the Association for Asian Studies, the American Historical Association and others. His publications (published and forthcoming works) cover historical topics about Japan and East Asia from the seventeenth century to the present, including disability in modern East Asia, and acupuncture and anatomy in East Asian medical thought.

Before joining the Hope faculty in July 2016, Dr. Tan was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at Dartmouth College.


  • Japanese history
  • East Asian cultural history (Japan, China and Korea)
  • Disability studies
  • History of science and medicine
  • Russian imperial history
  • World history


  • Ph.D., Japanese history, Harvard University, 2015
  • B.A. (summa cum laude), linguistics modified with Russian, Dartmouth College, 2006


  • Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, Dartmouth College, 2015–2016
  • Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies Dissertation Completion Grant, 2014–2015
  • Kokugakuin University (Tokyo, Japan), Visiting Foreign Researcher Fellowship, 2012–2013
  • Certificates of distinction in teaching (Harvard University)
Profile photo of Dr. Wayne Tan
Dr. Wayne Tan

Phone Number616.395.6867

Lubbers Hall 126 East 10th Street Holland, MI 49423
A map showing the location for Dr. Wayne Tan Lubbers Hall 126 East 10th Street Holland MI 49423