Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Freelance Scholar
Website URL
japan, military history, tohoku, tohoku region, sendai, bakumatsu, american civil war, boshin war, yokai, shinto
Additional Contact Information
Follow me on Bluesky,, Cohost, and Tumblr at @riversidewings

Personal Info

About Me

Dr. Nyri A. Bakkalian is an Armenian-American queer woman by birth and a military historian by training. She is a staff writer for Unseen Japan, and the author of Grey Dawn: A Tale of Abolition and Union (2021 NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite in LGBTQ Fiction) and Confluence: A Person-Shaped Story (2023 NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite in Science Fiction). She hosts the podcast Friday Night History and co-hosts Cleyera: Conversations on Shinto. Until her graduation in 2017 she was a graduate teaching assistant and instructor in history at the University of Pittsburgh; today, she is a remote instructor for Writespace.

From the beginning, as a queer, polytheist, polyamorous woman raised in a diaspora who is an exile twice over from her ethnic community, Nyri has been driven to write the representation she wishes to see, so that others, especially other women, take strength and hope that they can find belonging, community, and visibility. Nyri’s novel Confluence was nominated for the Nebula Award and was placed on the SFWA Reading List; her short story Chinode-matsuri was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Grey Dawn won 2021 NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite, and was noted by J.P. Der Boghossian of the Queer Armenian Library as being the first novel by an Armenian-American lesbian. Meanwhile, Nyri’s memoir essay Curtains in the Breeze won the 2018 Fountain Magazine essay contest. Her doctorate is in Japanese history, and her master’s thesis was once criticized for reading “too much like a novel.” She has produced nonfiction, fiction, and photography content for more than a dozen publications, including two newspapers and five anthologies, as well as for Eisner Award-nominated author Magdalene Visaggio’s Kim & Kim. She has been interviewed by the United States Naval Academy History Museum’s Preble Hall podcast, as well as the naval think tank CIMSEC’s Sea Control podcast, Jayne Nakata’s award-winning Transformations with Jayne, JP Der Boghossian’s Seven Minutes in Book Heaven, as well as Joint Geeks of Staff and Joe Kassabian’s Lions Led by Donkeys.

Self-employed by necessity as a neurodivergent, queer, Middle Eastern woman with a doctorate perennially considered too overqualified or unacceptable for the hundreds of traditional jobs for which she once tried to apply, Nyri has learned– under duress– the importance of a strong self-marketing operation as an author. She is eager to build other authors up to do the same, because “starving artist” is not a label for which authors have to settle. Meanwhile, working relationships with bookstores like Wichita’s Sapphic Sweets and Reads, and nearly a decade of experience working in and around libraries, have given Nyri the tools to get her books into libraries and personal collections far beyond the US. The Dayton Metro Library, Chicago Public Library, and Vancouver Public Library are just three of the collections that house Nyri’s work.

Nyri’s strength as an author and mentor of authors is standing at the intersection of a plethora of genres and media, and finding a harmonious through-line to join them all. She has been called a “hero who wears a thousand faces,” a “goddess among women,” a “jane of many trades,” a “history professor e-girl,” and more, and wears all of those apellations with pride. She looks forward to working with you. You can find her on Mastodon, Twitch, Bluesky, Facebook, Patreon, Cohost, and Tumblr at riversidewings. Her homepage can be found at

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Recent Publications



Podcast Appearances

Public Lectures and Stage Shows

  • “The Armenians of Pittsburgh” (WordPlay, 2017)
  • “Get Your History the Anime Way” (Tekko 2018)
  • “Animal-Person Caricatures” (Anthrocon 2019)
  • “Grey Dawn” (WPAFW 2020)
  • “Shunga” (WPAFW 2021)
  • “Tohoku Krampus: Get to Know the Namahage of Northern Japan” (Anthrocon 2022)
  • “Urban Fox Tales from Old Japan: A Sendai Kitsune Romp” (Anthrocon 2023)
Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
Japan, United States
Expertise by Chronology
17th century, 18th century, 19th century, Early Modern
Expertise by Topic
American Civil War, Gender, Government, Military, Politics, Religion, Women