Fall 2023 Japan 241A Seminar | Professor Satoko Shimazaki
Early modern Japan underwent an extraordinary spatial transformation: the whole realm under the shogunate was connected through the system of alternate attendance; highways came into being that connected Edo to other castle towns, and these urban centers to the provinces; a vibrant, commercial print market emerged alongside the continuing tradition of copying and circulating manuscripts, giving rise to new sense of space; maps offered birds eye views of the land and prints of famous places (meisho) systematically visualized famous places, materializing networks and circulating knowledge of the world.
In this seminar, works of geocriticism and literary cartography were presented. In tandem with these theoretical approaches, literary, theatrical, and visual texts from early modern Japan were also shown. Themes and topics explored include experiential geography and the body; the production of space and power; urban and peripheral spaces; dwellings; gendered geographies; and wilderness. The ultimate goal of the seminar was to learn how better to analyze Tokugawa literature (and Japanese literature more broadly) through the lens of spatiality, and also to find new theoretical perspectives and views rooted in the study of Asia that have figured relatively little in conversations about spatiality and geocriticism.