Organizers: David L. Howell, Princeton University; James Ketelaar, Stanford University
Chair: Ronald P. Toby, University of Illinois
Discussants: Marius B. Jansen, Princeton University; H. D. Harootunian, University of Chicago
Ikumi Kaminishi, University of Chicago
The methodologies of art history, period style and iconography, both in Japan and in the West, are conditioned by practices and theories which were codified in the West in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries by scholars like Wolfflin, Male, and Panofsky. What is modern about modern art is often seen as overcoming Renaissance ideals: linear perspective, conventions, narrative construction, and portraiture. However, ideas of periodization of art, also Renaissance and nineteenth century practice, are retained. Modern art is, therefore, a uniquely nineteenth century Western notion. Dealing with the notion of modern is problematic for historians of Japanese art. First, certain aspects of modernity in Western modern art are already apparent in ancient Japanese art compositions. Second, the conventional art historical methodologies of period style classification created for Western art do not fully explain Japanese art history. Modern art in Japanese art history is based on periodization-works produced after the Meiji period. In other words, the modern is determined chronologically.
This practice begs a reexamination of art historical methodologies, particularly in dealing with Japanese art. Since historians of Japanese art adopted period designation as if historical periodization were an a priori condition, "modernity" in art and "modern" periodization are undifferentiated in Japanese art history. Thus it is important to consider what is modern in Japanese art. I also hope to redefine what differentiates early modern from medieval arts. Instead of departing from the traditional Western ideas about modern art, I will show that Japanese early modern art is marked by the reevaluation of classics and the rise of consciousness of art. The works by the fifteenth century Buddhist monk Sesshu demonstrate a change in the idea of making artworks. Although the fifteenth century traditionally belongs to the Middle Ages, I hope to show that from an art historical perspective, Japanese modern art begins in the fifteenth century.
Hitomi Tonomura, University of Michigan
The objectifying gaze of the newly centralizing early modern regime classified, defined and compartmentalized the country's population. Unlike its (feeble) medieval precursor, which lacked a precise author and articulation of purpose, this dense and thorough "dividing practice" (to borrow from Foucault) had an unambiguous executor (the state) that invested its authority in the imagined imposition of category specific rules that would ideally "naturalize" the new social configuration. The targeted denominator for this numeration was the ie (house) unit, a legal institution normally headed by a man that organized and stabilized biological and social reproduction.
In this ie based classificatory scheme, women were the state's subject only indirectly and through the structural buffer of men. This of course did not mean that the state relinquished its control over women. Rather, it imposed forms of subjection aimed particularly at the feminine body, a potential source of counter order. A new set of disciplinary techniques on the one hand defined and organized the female body in relation to the household head and, on the other hand, generated a universalized vision of the feminine that transcended the occupation based, dominant, classificatory framework.
I will read laws and cases of "secret penetration" (adultery: mittsu) and samples of educational pamphlets to examine the consolidating process of the female specific boundaries. I will also consider the process and meaning of subjectification-internalization of "feminine" norms and its opposing deviance by focusing on the popularization of the Blood Bowl Sutra, which promised salvation to women despite their blood. My final task will be to highlight and analyze how the meaning and practice of adultery, moralistic discourses on womanhood, and attitudes toward the Blood Bowl Sutra were transformed as Japan moved from its medieval to early modern periods.
Paul Gordon Schalow, Rutgers University
Ominaeshi monogatari (1661; Tales of Lady Flowers) is a collection of anecdotes and legends about female poets by Kitamura Kigin (1624-1705). Variant texts exist, but 1661 edition consists of 57 discrete episodes, each focusing on a different Japanese poet, mostly of the Heian period, along with a few poets from China. The collection is typical of 17th century kana zoshi (vernacular prose books) in that the anecdotes are didactic in intent, designed to instruct and enlighten a broad urban readership that included many women. The work is remarkable however in the way that it seems to encourage women's creativity in the literary arts by carving out a discursive space for contemporary women that is based firmly on women's historical poetic practice.
The anecdotes reveal both Kigin's innovative concept of a distinct female discursive practice, existing in the past and present, and his understanding of how women's writing differed from men's. Kigin's formulation was revolutionary in the sense that previously no such distinction based on gender had been made within the vernacular language between the discursive practices of men and women. Ominaeshi monogatari thus stands as Japan's first formulation of a theory of women's writing, inspired apparently by the careful scrutiny that Kigin and his contemporaries were giving to Heian poetry and prose by women.
In response to the questions raised in the title of the panel, "what is 'early modern' and 'Japanese' about early modern Japan?" the proposed paper suggests that the formulation of a theory of women's writing in the 17th century could only have happened in Japan because of its Heian legacy of women's writing, and that such a theory laid the groundwork for the later formulation of the category of "woman writer" (keishu sakka or joryu sakka) in the late-Meiji and Taisho eras.
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