Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Gregory Smits

Professor of History and Asian Studies
211 Weaver
Office Phone: (814) 863-0172
Gregory Smits


BA, University of Florida, 1983
MA, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 1987
PhD, University of Southern California, 1992


My research mainly concerns the history of earthquakes in Japan, both the impact of seismicity on society and the history of science. I have written about significance of the 1855 Ansei Edo earthquake and about earthquakes and tsunamis along Japan’s Pacific northeast coast in the modern era. Projected future projects include a history of seismology in Japan and a broadening of the geographic scope of my work on earthquakes to East Asia as a whole. My teaching interests include world history, the history of science and technology, and East Asia.

Recent Publications:

When the Earth Roars: Lessons from the History of Earthquakes in Japan. Rowman and Littlefield, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4422-2009-6.

Seismic Japan: The Long History and Continuing Legacy of the Ansei Edo Earthquake. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0824838171.

琉球王国の自画像:近世沖縄思想史. 訳 渡辺美季. ぺりかん社, 2011. ISBN978-4-8315-1298-7 (Japanese edition of Visions of Ryukyu, Watanabe Miki, main translator).

Bettina Gramlich-Oka, co-editor. Economic Thought in Early-Modern Japan. Brill, 2010. ISBN 978-90-04-18383-4.

Recent Courses: