SOAS University of London

Japan & Korea Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Culture

Elesabeth Woolley

BA Hons (Birmingham), MA (SOAS)
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Elesabeth Woolley
Email address:
Thesis title:
Suspicious Steeds and Evil Deeds: Horses and Misconduct in the Genpei Jousuiki
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


I grew up in Shropshire, an area of the UK known for its history, and have always been fascinated by how different generations tell their story for posterity. My first degree dissertation focused on representations of Kingship in the Wars of the Roses.

I subsequently developed an interest in the literature and history of Pre-Modern Japan. My MA thesis focused on the representation of Taira no Munemori in the Kakuichi version of the Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari).

My current project centres particularly on the representation of warriors and their horses in the War Tales and the influence these depictions have on perceptions of historical events.

PhD Research

My research investigates how the symbol of the horse is used in the Genpei War Tales, and the relationship between equine depiction and human behaviour. My work focuses on specific scenes from the Genpei Jousuiki, supported with analysis from historical source material and other War Tale variant texts. I am particularly interested in the roles played by individuals who are traditionally neglected or criticised within these texts. Between February and April 2017 I conducted research in Japan under the auspices of Doushisha University in Kyoto.

I am sponsored by the kind generosity of the Wolfson Foundation, with a Scholarship for Languages.


  • "Tracing Konoshita: The Horse that Caused the Genpei War" ("Storytelling" York Centre for Mediaeval Studies, June 2017)


  • Japan Research Centre
  • European Association of Japanese Studies (Member)