Professor Aaron William Moore

Handa Chair of Japanese-Chinese Relations, Head of Asian Studies

  • Asian Studies
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Contact details



Asian Studies, The University of Edinburgh
50 George Square, Room 4.20

Post code


  • Prof. Moore is available by appointment.


Prof. Aaron William Moore received his PhD from Princeton University in 2006. He held post-doctoral positions at Harvard and Oxford University, as well as teaching as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Virginia. In 2010 he was appointed as a lecturer in the History Department at the University of Manchester, where he primarily taught modern Chinese history for seven years and was made Senior Lecturer in 2016. He took up the Handa Chair in September 2017.  Until recently, he has spent every year of his life in a language class of some sort, including Japanese, Chinese, Russian, and Turkish.

He has presented his research as invited lecturer, keynote speaker, and chair around the world, especially in Britain and continental Europe, North America, and East Asia; recently he has given talks at Naples, KU Leuven, York, Berkeley, Academia Sinica, UC Dublin, SOAS, Yale, Liverpool, Max Planck (Berlin), Academia Historica, Vienna, and Leiden. In addition to English, his work has also been published in Japanese and Chinese.

Responsibilities & affiliations

Asian Studies, Head of Department

Undergraduate teaching

Prof. Moore typically organises coursework on modern East Asian history, politics and international relations of East Asia, and supervises projects on modern literature of China and Japan.

Postgraduate teaching

Prof. Moore is the programme director for MSc East Asian Relations and contributes to coursework and supervision in MSc programmes in both Japanese and Chinese studies.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Prof. Moore is open to supervising or co-supervising PhD students in the following general areas:

1. Modern history of China (1911-1976) and Japan (1850-1990), especially in the following areas: WWII, social history, history of childhood and youth, cultural history, historical memory, international relations, relations with the Soviet Union and Russia

2. Modern literature of China and Japan, especially in the following areas: life-writing (diaries, autobiographies, travelogues, letters, and memoirs), I-novels, science fiction, popular science writing, detective fiction, youth and children's literature. subculture literature

Interested PhD students should contact Prof. Moore directly before submitting an application to the university.

Current PhD students supervised

Giuseppe Strippoli (2019~), Japanese and Soviet science fiction

Past PhD students supervised

At University of Manchester:

Yang Zhao, ‘Film Representations of the Second Sino-Japanese War, 1945-1949’, co-supervisor with Ana Carden-Coyne, September 2016-2017 (left Manchester).

Theresa Sunga, ‘The History, Experience and Commemoration of Refugees and Asylum-Seekers in the Philippines in the 20th Century’, co-supervisor with Peter Gatrell, September 2016-2017 (left Manchester).

Ben Walker, ‘Demanding Dictatorship? American Suppression of Communism in the Philippines’, first supervisor (with Thomas Allcock), September 2012-June 2016.

Kelly Maddox, ‘Japanese Imperialism in the Context of Genocide’, co-supervisor with Aristotle Kallis, NWDTC/Lancaster University, September 2012-June 2016.

Research summary

Prof. Moore is a transnational and comparative social historian working with documents in Japanese, Chinese, and Russian, as well as having extensive archival experience in Britain and the United States. His work has primarily focused on the critical analysis of personal documents in the modern era, including diaries, letters, memoirs, and amateur artwork. He has published extensively on the experiences of combat veterans, children and youth, and civilians enduring WWII, using examples of life-writing from the United States, Japan, China, and Great Britain. He is also conducting research on the long history of science writing and speculative fiction, as well as the social history of the 1950s in mainland China.

Current research interests

A long time collector of personal diaries, Moore is developing a manuscript on how educated Chinese people in former KMT strongholds came to understand communism after 1949, with a special focus on cities such as Nanjing, Shanghai, Kunming, and Chongqing. With Dr. Jennifer Altehenger (Kings College), he has organised a major international conference through the British Academy on new historiography of the early PRC, to be held in London in December 2018. He is also working on a comparative project concerning visions of the future in China, Japan, the Soviet Union, and Turkey from 1900 to 1970, provisionally entitled 'The Modern Future'. Working with Prof. Seth Jacobowitz (Yale University), Moore has presented initial research findings on pre-war Asian science fiction and speculative science writing across North America and Europe.

Past research interests

Prof. Moore's published work has mainly concerned the social experience of WWII, as it is known through personal documents. In 2013, his first monograph, 'Writing War' (Harvard University Press), Moore argues that Japanese, Chinese, and American soldiers used diaries to commit themselves to the war effort by engaging in what Moore calls 'self-discipline'. Self-discipline in a diary is the diarist's attempts to shape his language in order that it might feel more authentic, and thereby influencing his views of himself, the enemy, and the war effort. Related publications have appeared in journals such as 'Twentieth Century China', 'The Journal of Asian Studies', and 'Modern Asian Studies'. 'Writing War' was positively reviewed in several academic and non-academic publications, from the 'American Historical Review' to the 'London Review of Books' and the 'Financial Times'. Moore's second monograph, 'Bombing the City' (Cambridge University Press, 2018), won the 2019 ICAS Teaching Tool Accolade. It is a narrative history of Japanese and British civilians' experience of WWII, drawing deeply from museum collections, memoirs, and local history. Eschewing the traditional focus on London, Hiroshima, and Tokyo, 'Bombing the City' highlights the similarities that are revealed through attention to regional cities such as Hull, Kawasaki, Coventry, Aomori, Liverpool, Osaka, Swansea, and Kofu. Moore argues that civilian support for total war was necessary for its execution, but consequently made non-combatants legitimate targets in the eyes of the 'enemy' and helps to explain the war's brutality. In addition to his work on soldiers and civilians, Moore writes on the history of childhood and youth, using personal documents by children and teenagers, which is the subject of a comparative monograph provisionally entitled 'What Can Be Said: Growing up in a World at War'. Using materials from China and Japan, he has already published his initial findings in 'Modern China' and 'Japanese Studies', including a special edition co-edited with Peter Cave (University of Manchester).

View all 21 publications on Research Explorer

Selected Lectures and Keynotes:


‘Fantastic Empire: Science Writing and Science Fiction in Imperial Japan’, International Conference of Asian Studies, Leiden, 17 July 2019; University of Lund, 10-11 April 2019; Oxford Brookes University, 21 February 2019; University of East Anglia, 17 October 2018

‘The Prism of Youth: Diaries by Youth in China, Japan, Britain, and the USSR, 1939-1945’, University of Durham, 10 May 2019

‘The Crucible of Self: Diary Writing in Modern China, 1926-1966’, University of Lund, 10-11 April 2019


‘The Final Revolution Is in Our Hearts: Diary Writing in the Early People’s Republic of China, 1949-1959’, How Maoism Was Made: Analysing Chinese Communism beyond the Totalitarian Lens, 1949-1965, British Academy Conference, London, 29 November 2018 (also conference organiser)

‘Engineered Habitats: Visions of Future Cities in Twentieth Century Japan’, Urban Narratives in Modern Japan: Space, Technology, and Material Culture, University of Naples, L’Orientale, 5 November 2018

‘The Prism of Youth: Life Writing by Japanese Children and Youth during WWII’, Sainsburys Institute for Japanese Arts and Cultures, Norwich, 18 October 2018

‘Reversing the Gaze: Diary Writing by Children and Youth in Wartime Japan’, KU Leuven, 22 March 2018


‘Japan’s Changing Visions of the Future’, The Future in East Asia, the Pacific, and Beyond, University of Edinburgh, 20 October 2017

‘War Diaries and the Making of Modern China and Japan, 1937-1945’, Japan Fair keynote, University College, Dublin, 12 October 2017

‘Imagine the World! Adventure Literature and Science Fiction in Meiji Japan’, European Association of Japanese Studies, Lisbon, 1 September 2017

Discussant and Chair, ‘Servicemen in Total War: Racial Disunity, Disabled Bodies, and Alienation in the Japanese Empire’, Association of Asian Studies, Toronto, 17 March 2017

‘Adventures in Future Science: Speculative Fiction in Modern Japan, 1868-1945’, with Prof. Seth Jacobowitz, SOAS, London, 17 May 2017

‘Questing for the Future: Japanese Science Fiction and the Imperial Imagination, 1900-1937’, University of California, Berkeley, 7 March 2017

‘Socialist Self-Help: Diary Writing in the Early People's Republic of China, 1949-1959’, University of Liverpool, 22 February 2017


‘Memories of the Bombing War in Britain and Japan’, University of York, 9 November 2016

‘War Kids at Play: A Second Look at Laughter among Evacuees in Japan, 1944-1945’, Horrible Histories? Children’s Lives in Historical Context, Children’s History Society, London, 17 June 2016

‘Socialist Self-Help: Chinese Personal Diaries from the Jiangnan Region, 1948-1958’, ‘Cure the Sickness to Save the Patient’: Rescuing Thought Work from Cold War Ideology, Association for Asian Studies, Seattle, 2 April 2016

‘The Birth of Political Consciousness: A Transnational Study of Teenagers’ Wartime Diaries in China, Japan, Russia, and Britain’, Cross-Disciplinary Contributions to Understanding Research and Practice Dynamics with Children: Building the Conversation across the Human and Social Sciences, University of Manchester, 11 February 2016


‘“A Complicated Request”: Student Letters to the Ministry of Education at the End of Nationalist Rule in Mainland China (1945-1949)’, The Sino-Japanese War and Its Impact on China, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taipei, 20 December 2015

‘The Birth of Social Consciousness: A Transnational Study of Teenagers’ Diaries during WWII’, Late Modern History Seminar, St. Andrew’s University, 30 November 2015

‘Personal Documents by Japanese Children during WWII, 1937-1945’, Childhood, Education, and Youth in WWII, University of Manchester, 23 November 2015

‘The Construction of Adulthood in Children’s Diaries from WWII Japan’, Childhood Envisioned and Experienced in Wartime Japan, 1931-1945, British Association of Japanese Studies, 11 September 2015 (also chair of panel, ‘Rethinking the “Post-war” in Japan: Beyond US-Japanese Encounters’)

‘Little Autarchs: Children and Irregular Markets in WWII Japan’, Smuggling, Piracy, and Black Markets in the Modern World, World Economic History Conference, Kyoto, 29 August 2015

‘A Hard-Knock Life? Urban and Rural in the Life Writing of Children and Youth’, Habitable Cities, Shanghai, 4 July 2015

Chair and Discussant, State and Society in Wartime Nationalist China, Association of Asian Studies in Asia, Taipei, 28 June 2015

‘Citizen, Soldier, Robot: Visions of Collective Subjectivity in China, Japan, and the Soviet Union’, Pasts, Presents, and Futures, University of Sheffield, 16 June 2015

Roundtable Panelist, Empires in the Crossfire: Textbook and E-Resource for a New History of WWII, University of Leiden, 6 June 2015

‘From Individual to War Youth: The Construction of Collective Experience among Japanese Evacuees, 1944-1945’, University of Leeds, 15 April 2015

Panelist for Featured Roundtable on the Impact of Yoshimi Yoshiaki’s Grassroots Fascism, Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference, 23 March 2015

‘Reversing the Gaze: The Construction of “Adulthood” in the Wartime Diaries of Japanese Evacuees’, University of California, Santa Barbara, 27 February 2015

‘An Insatiable Parasite: Food and War in Asia and the Pacific’, Pomona College, 25 February 2015

‘Documentary Self-Discipline: Life-Writing among Children and Youth in Modern China’, University of California, Irvine, 24 February 2015

‘Modernizing Self-Fashioning: Traditions of Diary Writing in China and Japan’, University of California, San Diego, 27 January 2015


‘Personal Histories: Life-Writing in Museums, Archives, and Local Libraries in China, Taiwan, and Japan’, Oxford University China Centre, 15 November 2014

‘The Crucible of Self: Diary Writing in Wartime China and Japan’, Newcastle University, 22 October 2014

‘From Individual to War Youth: The Construction of Collective Experience among Japanese Children during WWII’, European Association of Japanese Studies, University of Ljubljana, 29 August 2014

‘Growing Up in Nationalist China: Personal Documents of Children and Youth, 1928-1949’, Personal Lessons: Articulating Childhood and Youth in China and Japan, Association for Asian Studies, 29 March 2014

‘Demon Hands: Civilian Narratives of Firebombing in Britain and Japan,” War Memorialization in Asia, University of Essex, 15 March 2014


‘Physical Dimensions of Self: Diary Writing and Self-Discipline in Wartime East Asia, 1937-1945’, Royal Holloway, 11 December 2013

‘The Crucible of Self: Diary Writing in Wartime Japan’, Center for East Asian Studies, Yale University, 4 December 2013

‘Socialist Self-Help: Personal Diaries from the Jiangnan Region in 1950s China’, Learning from Big Brother, Oxford University, 28 September 2013

‘Seeing Chinese Cities through the Eyes of a Child’, Habitable Cities, University of Leicester, 12 April 2013

‘Writing about Food in the War Diaries of Chinese, American, and Japanese Soldiers, 1937-1945’, Food Justice, University of Illinois, Chicago, 5 April 2013

‘The Construction of Collective Memory: Personal Documents by Children in Wartime Japan’, School of Oriental and African Studies, 9 January 2013


‘Hijacked Development? Diaries by Children and Adolescent in Wartime China, Japan, Britain, and the USSR’, The Affective Foundations of Chinese Society, University of Vienna, 12 October 2012

‘The Crucible of Self: Japanese Soldiers’ Diaries from WWII’, Japan Society, London, 20 February 2012.


‘Finding Resolve: The Commitment to Total War in the Diaries of Ordinary People in China and Japan’, Origins of the Second World War in East Asia and the Pacific,

University of Pittsburgh, 30 September 2011

‘Assembling Your Doppelganger: The Diary in Modern East Asia’, We Object! Artefact Agency in Modern Japanese History, European Association of Japanese Studies, Talinn, 25 August 2011

‘Writing about Food in the War Diaries of Chinese, American, and Japanese Soldiers, 1937-1945’, Food and War in Asia and the Pacific, University of Leiden, 18 August 2011


‘To Defile a Sacred Memory: Japanese Peace and War Museums in a Comparative Framework’, Aftermath: Legacies and Memories of War in Europe, 1918-1945-1989,

University of Birmingham, 24 September 2010

‘What Can Be Said: A Transnational Examination of Children’s Diaries, 1925-1955’, Association for Asian Studies, 24-26 March 2010

‘Modernizing Self-Fashioning: Technologies and Techniques of Chinese War Diary Writing, 1911-1945’,    University of Edinburgh, 20 January 2010


‘Modernizing Self-Fashioning: Technologies and Techniques of Chinese War Diary Writing, 1911-1945’,    University of Sheffield, 20 May 2009

‘Unsafe at Home: Four Girls’ Diaries from Wartime China, Japan, England, and the Soviet Union, 1937-1945’, Oxford University, 20 October 2009

‘The Human Machine: Mass Subjectivity and Rational Organization before Systems Theory in Japan, China, and the USSR’, Human Machines as Asian Creations? Mechanized Modernities and Mass Subjectivity in Twentieth Century China, Japan, Soviet Russia, and North America, 19-20 June 2009, Oxford University

‘Self-Discipline in East Asia: Foundations of Social Mobilization’, New Perspectives for Asian Studies in the Humanities, Charles University, Prague, 30 May 2009

‘The Problem of Changing Language Communities: Memory Writing and Veterans’ Groups in the Construction of Postwar Historical Memory in East Asia’, How to Tell the Tale: the Wartime Generation and Postwar Historical Memory in East Asia, Oxford University, 17 May 2009

‘When the Gods Weep: Chinese Nationalists Describe Defeat in War Diaries, 1937-1945’, University of Venice, 19 April 2009

‘Fact and Fiction: Analyzing Genre and Self-Representation in Japanese and Chinese Nationalist War Diaries, 1937-1945’, University of Leiden, 10 March 2009

‘Physical Dimensions of Self: Language, Experience, and the Diary as Material Object in Modern East Asian Armed Forces’, University of Oxford, 17 February 2009

‘The Crucible of Self: Diary Writing among Chinese Nationalists, Japanese and American Servicemen in East Asia and the Pacific 1937-1945’, University of Cambridge, 19 January 2009