Organizer: Van C. Gessel, Brigham Young University
Chair: Robert A. Russell, Brigham Young University
The Social Role of Rakugo in Performing Culture
Patricia Welch, University of Michigan
Following the Meiji Restoration, rakugo achieved new heights of popularity. The number of theaters devoted to rakugo mushroomed, and transcripts of performances by popular raconteurs became runaway bestsellers. While scholars have begun to examine rakugo's role in the development of modern literary prose, few have investigated its role in society. In this presentation, I will examine the evolving role of rakugo in performing culture.
To do so, I investigate the primary focus of periods when rakugo's popularity surged: the 1880s, the years following the Second World War, and-though slightly attenuated-the present day. John Scott Miller (1989, 1994) contends that a crucial technological development (Japanese shorthand) contributed to the initial rakugo boom; this thesis holds in each case. Rather than simply reflecting successful marketing of technology, however, each boom has filled a vital social role. Initially, rakugo, affordable public entertainment, provided a model of community through tales of hapless but indomitable Edokko, urbane wags, and dutiful wives; moreover, through voluntary censorship, most stories also adhered to tenets of Confucian morality, although the critical eye of the raconteur illuminated excesses on the part of townsfolk and authority figures alike. In the twentieth century, rakugo continues to provide a model of community, though now associated with an imagined 'authentic' past. By examining story choice, audience, and performance techniques, I will show how each wave of popularity affects the subsequent shape and critical reception of rakugo, and how nostalgia propelling the current boom may herald the demise of rakugo's vitality.
Polite Language Behavior: A Comparison Between Learners and Native Speakers of
Noriko Asato, Purdue University
In Japanese linguistic literature, honorifics are considered to be social indices mainly expressing the differences between the interlocutors' social status and they are taught as such in Japanese language classrooms. However, learners of Japanese often express how difficult it is to master honorifics and indeed they do make many mistakes on them. The question is: Why is this the case? Is it possible that in real life, Japanese use honorifics in accordance with their evaluation of the communication situation composed of more complex factors? Is it also possible that as previous studies suggest, learners that come from different cultural backgrounds perceive situations differently, which in turn influences their use of honorifics?
The present study empirically compares learners and native speakers of Japanese in their use of honorifics in request situations. The purpose of the study is to identify the sources of their differences: Are they to be attributed to their choices of different linguistic forms, their varying perceptions of social/contextual factors, or both?
The study compared 10 natives and 10 advanced-learners of Japanese. Discourse completion tasks were employed to elicit responses where three factors-power, distance and imposition-were systematically controlled, and a situational assessment questionnaire was utilized to see how the subjects perceived request situations.
In this paper, I will show that the learners differ from the natives in terms of; (1) the perception of situations; (2) the selection of linguistic forms; and (3) the factors determining honorifics. The learners' deviations from the native responses will be illustrated using concrete examples, and based on that, implications for future instruction will be discussed.
The Effectiveness of ICALI in Tutoring Japanese Connectives
Masato Kikuchi, Georgia Institute of Technology
This paper deals with the evaluation of an ICALI (computer-assisted language instruction) program in tutoring Japanese connectives. In order to connect two Japanese sentences with temporal and conditional connectives, one is required to master semantically illusive concepts such as self-controllability of actions and presuppositions involved in the link between two sentences. Due to the complexity of the analyses involved in detecting problems in the connective expressions, relatively few ICALI programs addressed this aspect of language utilization in the past. A new ICALI program specially equipped with enhanced grammatical and semantic knowledge and tutorial strategies was developed. After a pilot study and reworking of the program, an experiment was conducted to test the effectiveness of the ICALI program by comparing its performance with that of a human instructor who was equipped with the equivalent knowledge and teaching strategies to handle connected sentences. A repeated-measure "F" test was conducted to measure the initial learning effect and the interaction effect, and a "T" test was conducted to measure the retention of learning. This study found that the two instructional methods were equally effective as far as teaching Japanese temporal and conditional connectives was concerned. This study also demonstrated that with careful attention to feedback generation, it is possible to assist learners of Japanese to master illusive temporal and conditional expressions. The discussion includes the theoretical implications of the current findings, the limitations of the research, and further research directions.
In Search of Biwa Hôshi: Scholarship and the Biwa Traditions of
Hugh de Ferranti, Cornell University
Musicologists, literary specialists, and folklorists alike have framed their accounts of the biwa traditions of Kyushu in terms of a historical dichotomy between the sacred music of môsô (blind Buddhist priests) and the so-called "Higo biwa" tradition, the secular music of an ever-diminishing number of blind biwa players who have performed as professional narrative singers (zatô) in the central region of the former Higo province. The latter group's identity is constructed largely by means of reference to a figure of great importance in medieval performing arts history, namely, the biwa hôshi, blind itinerant singers who are said to have shaped and disseminated representative medieval narratives such as the Heike Monogatari. While there is some historical evidence for relations between the musicians of Kyushu and the biwa professionals of central Japan, representation of the former in terms of the biwa hôshi trope privileges an established construction of national musical and literary history at the expense of salient localized perceptions of the music and its practitioners. In this presentation I shall identify the essential traits of models of the biwa hôshi which have informed scholarly accounts of secular biwa music in Kyushu, then consider several kinds of evidence to suggest that there are as yet few grounds on which to firmly link those practices to the medieval biwa hôshi and their successors, the heikyoku performers of the Muromachi and Edo Periods.