Naoko Wake

Position: Associate Professor
Field: 20th Century, Comparative, Cultural, Women & Gender, Science/Medicine
Region: United States, East Asia

Office: 306B Old Horticulture
Office Hours: On leave in Fall 2018
Phone: (517) 884-4933

I am a historian of gender, sexuality, and medicine in the twentieth century United States and the Pacific Rim. I am intrigued by the ever-present tension between objectivity and subjectivity in medical theories and practices, and by the historically changing ways in which doctors, patients, and caregivers have grappled with such tension. I have written on the history of psychiatric and psychoanalytic approaches to homosexuality in my first book Private Practices: Harry Stack Sullivan, the Science of Homosexuality, and American Liberalism (Rutgers, 2011). My current research concerns Japanese American and Korean American survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, tentatively titled Bombing Americans: Gender and Trans-Pacific Remembering after World War II. In this work, I am exploring racial, gender, and cross-national identities that emerged in Asia and Asian America in post-colonial contexts, and a range of grass-roots activism that took shape in response to the nuclear destruction–patient rights, civil rights, anti-war and -nuclear activism. I continue to be fascinated by personal experiences and memories of trauma, pain, and illness, and how they coexist and collide with social and cultural institutions. My co-authored book (with Shinpei Takeda) Hiroshima/Nagasaki Beyond the Ocean (Yururi Books, 2014), published in both English and Japanese, introduces oral histories that Shinpei and I have conducted with North American and South American survivors of the atomic bombings. I work with graduate students in the US modern history, history of gender and sexuality, Asian American history, history of medicine and science, and history of nuclear weaponry.

Select articles

“Surviving the Bomb in America: Silent Memories and the Rise of Cross-national Identity,” Pacific Historical Review, 86(3) 2017: 472-506. Winner of 2018 Oral History Association Best Article Award.

“Gender and Science in Hiroshima’s Aftermath: A Cross-cultural Approach,” Endeavor, 35(4) 2011: 178-186.

“The ‘American’ Psychoanalytic Hospital in the Making,” Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 17(5) 2009: 344-350.

“On Our Memory of Gay Sullivan: A Hidden Trajectory,” Journal of Homosexuality, 55(1) 2008: 150-165.

“The Military, Psychiatry, and ‘Unfit’ Soldiers, 1939-1942,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 62(4) 2007: 461-494.

“The Full Story by No Means All Told: Harry Stack Sullivan at Sheppard-Pratt, 1922-1930,” History of Psychology, 9(4) 2006: 325-358.

“Kinsey’s Biographers: A Historiographical Reconnaissance” (coauthored with James H. Capshew, Matthew H. Adamson, Patricia A. Buchanan, and Narisara Murray), Journal of the History of Sexuality, 12(3) 2003: 465-486.

Awards and fellowships

  • Dibner Research Fellow in the History of Science and Technology, The Huntington Library, 2018-19.
  • Agnese N. Haury Travel Grant, Center for the United States and the Cold War, New York University, 2018-19.
  • Excellence in Diversity Award, Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, MSU, 2015.
  • Science, Technology, & Society Grant, National Science Foundation (co-PI), 2014-15.
  • Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims Research Grant, 2012-13.
  • John K. Hudzik Award, International Studies and Program, MSU, 2012.
  • NEAC Research Grant, Association for Asian Studies, 2012.


  • HST890  History of Medicine, Gender, and Sexuality
  • HST850 Comparative History of Sexuality
  • HST454   Gender and the Making of American Minorities
  • HST326 US Foreign Relations since 1914
  • HST319 Asian American History
  • WS/RCAH/LB304  Introduction to LGBTQ Studies
  • WS201 Introduction to Women’s Studies
  • LB324   Sex Changes: The History of Sexuality in Modern Science
  • LB492   “Queer” Science and Scientists in the U.S.
  • LB492  Health, Sex, and Feminism in the Trans-Pacific World