Joseph Henning Headshot

Joseph Henning

Associate Professor
Department of History
College of Liberal Arts

Office Location

Joseph Henning

Associate Professor
Department of History
College of Liberal Arts


BA, Colorado College; MIA, Columbia University; Ph.D., American University


Dr. Henning's teaching and research interests focus on the history of U.S. foreign relations and modern Japan, particularly on the influence of cultural constructs such as race, religion, and gender in relations between state and non-state actors. His course topics include early and modern U.S. foreign relations, terrorism and war, U.S.-Japanese relations, and Japanese fiction and film. His research examines how American ideologies of race, religion, and gender have shaped and been shaped by American encounters with Japan and East Asia. In the case of Japan, Dr. Henning concentrates on the early decades of its relations with the United States, from the Perry Expedition through the Meiji Period.

He earned his B.A. (sociology) from Colorado College and his M.I.A. (international affairs) from Columbia University. As an undergraduate, he spent his junior year at Waseda University (Tokyo). After completing his master's degree, he worked in the U.S. House of Representatives as a legislative assistant. Dr. Henning earned his Ph.D. (history) from American University, studying under Dr. Robert L. Beisner and Dr. Anna K. Nelson.

He is the author of Outposts of Civilization: Race, Religion, and the Formative Years of American-Japanese Relations, which won the Bernath Book Prize awarded by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. The book also was translated and published in Japan.

Before joining RIT's Department of History in 2004, Dr. Henning taught at Saint Vincent College (Latrobe, Pennsylvania) and served as a Fulbright Lecturer on the Faculty of Arts and Letters and the Faculty of Law at Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan).


Personal Links

Currently Teaching

3 Credits
This class examines the U.S.-Japanese relationship from the perspectives of diplomacy, economics, and culture. Fluctuating sharply during its 150 years, this relationship has featured gunboat diplomacy, racial conflict, war, and alliance. The course investigates U.S.-Japanese relations in the contexts of modernization, imperialism, World War II, the cold war, and the 21st century.
3 Credits
This upper division seminar constitutes the final core requirement in the international and global studies degree program. Students will enroll in this course in their final year of study. The capstone seminar will further develop and sharpen the student's understanding of globalization and international processes. The course uses a problem-solving focus to provide a detailed analysis of one or more contemporary issues in the field of international and global studies, culminating in a written senior thesis and project presentation.
0 Credits
Students will develop skills in critical thinking, ethical reasoning, problem-solving, and communication in an international setting through participating in a Study Abroad program (at least four weeks).
3 Credits
This class analyzes the roots of U.S. foreign policy, beginning with the American Revolution and continuing through the Spanish-American War. It also examines the development of the United States from a small 18th century experiment in democracy into a late 19th century imperial power. Topics include foreign policy powers in the constitution, economic development, continental and overseas expansion, and Manifest Destiny.
0 - 16 Credits
Internship in a field related to international and global studies (at least 160 hours of work, completed over at least four weeks). Students will apply the accumulated knowledge, theory, and methods of the discipline to problem solving outside of the classroom.
3 Credits
This course examines the late 19th century emergence of the United States as an imperial power and its development into a 20th century superpower. Topics include U.S. politics and foreign policy, the influence of racial and cultural ideologies on policy, isolation, and intervention, the cold war, and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
3 Credits
This course offers an introduction to modern Japanese history, highlighting social and aesthetic traditions that have formed the foundations for Japanese literature and cinema. It explores how writers and directors have drawn on this heritage to depict historical experiences.
1 - 3 Credits
A student may register for an independent study project subject to the approval of the faculty sponsor, student's department, the academic committee of the college of liberal arts and the dean of the college of liberal arts and providing that she or he has a minimum GPA of 2.7 at time of application. An independent study project is not a substitute for a course. It enables the interested student and his or her faculty sponsor to coordinate their efforts on subjects and topics that range beyond the normal sequence of course selection.

Select Scholarship

Journal Paper
Henning, Joseph M. "Very Beautiful Heathenism": The Light of Asia in Gilded Age America." Journal of American-East Asian Relations 26. (2019): 21-50. Print.
Published Review
Henning, Joseph M. Rev. of By More than Providence: Grand Strategy and American Power in the Asia Pacific since 1783, by Michael J. Green. Journal of American History Sep. 2019: 417. Print.
Invited Keynote/Presentation
Henning, Joseph. "Buddhism, Poetry, and "Paganism": The Light of Asia in Gilded Age America." Translating Buddhism Conference. York St. John University, UK Association for Buddhist Studies. York, United Kingdom. 2 Jul. 2016. Conference Presentation.
Henning, Joseph M. "Constructing U.S. - Japanese Relations: William Elliot Griffis and Meiji Japan." Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association. PCB-AHA. Portland, OR. 15 Aug. 2014. Conference Presentation.