Historian Amy Stanley of Northwestern University Wins Two Book Awards

Amy Stanley, professor of history in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, has won the 2021 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography and the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography for her book Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World (Scribner, 2020).

The book tells the story of a Japanese woman from her childhood in Japan’s snow country through three catastrophic marriages and a devastating famine to her escape to the shogun’s capital. It’s about how a woman used the city to recreate herself — as a maidservant, a tenement-dweller, a samurai’s wife — and how she, and others like her, built the global megalopolis of Tokyo that exists today.

“I was shocked that I won with so many amazing books in the field, but it was especially moving for me to win for the story of an ordinary woman’s life,” said Professor Stanley. “Biographies are usually about famous, or at least extremely accomplished, people. Tsuneno was just an average woman, but I think her struggle to determine the shape of her own life resonates even now, as women of my generation continue to face similar obstacles related to the expectation that they will subordinate their own desires in order to be good wives and mothers.”

Professor Stanley joined the faculty at Northwestern University in 2007. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College and holds a Ph.D. in East Asian languages and civilizations from Harvard University.

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