Herman Ooms teaches upper-level undergraduate survey courses in early modern (Tokugawa) Japanese history, the history of religions in Japan, and an introduction to new theory from Saussure to post-modern thinkers. At the graduate level, he offers seminars on: Tokugawa social, legal, and intellectual history, critical social theory (such as Pierre Bourdieu's approach).
He was educated in Belgium, where he majored in Classics and earned an MA in Philosophy; Japan, where he earned an MA at Tokyo University in Anthroplogy of Religion; the University of Chicago, where he received a PhD in Japanese History. In his research and teaching, he combines anthropological approaches, intellectual history and critical theory.
Charismatic Bureaucrat: A Political Biography of Matsudaira Sadanobu (1758-1829) (University of Chicago Press, 1975);
Tokugawa Ideology: Early Constructs, 1570-1680, (Princeton University Press, 1985) the Japanese translation of which, Tokugawa ideorogii (Tokyo: Perikansha, 1990) received the Watsuji Tetsuro Culture Prize in 1992; a Korean translation is being prepared;
Sosensuhai no shimborizumu (Symbolism in Ancestor Worship; Tokyo: Dobundo, 1987);
Tokugawa Village Practice: Class, Status, Power, Law, (University of California Press, 1996); special recognition by the Herbert Jacobs Book Prize Committee of the Law and Society Association in 1997; Japanese translation, 2008;
Shukyo kenkyu to ideorogii bunseki (Essays on Ideology and Religion in Japan; Perikansha, 1996);
Shinpojiumu Tokugawa Ideorogii (Symposium on Tokugawa Ideology: Appraisals and Critiques), co-edited with Okuwa Hitoshi (Perikansha, 1996);
"Forms and Norms in Edo Arts and Society," in Edo Art in Japan 1615-1868, (National Gallery of Art, Washington). Exhibition Catalogue, 1998;
Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan: The Tenmu Dynasty, 650-800. (University of Hawai'i Press, 2009)
Pre-modern Japanese History; Cultural Theory