You are here: Home / AJLS / Schedule / Panel 13 | 10:40-12:30 | ROOM A

Panel 13 | 10:40-12:30 | ROOM A

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Panel 13 | 10:40-12:30 |  ROOM A

13 - Remediating the Premodern

“Reviving the Past or Evoking it? Representations of Classical Japanese Literature in Manga,” Lindsey Stirek, Ohio State University

  • This paper will examine representations of classical Japanese literature in contemporary manga and establish what effect these representations could have upon perception, awareness, and understanding of specific classical texts.  Among other works, Genji Monogatari and Ogura Hyakunin Isshū have been often used, both directly and indirectly, as the basis for manga adaptations. Some of these adaptations closely parallel the original work and make only minor changes, but many adapt the storyline, characters, and/or unique elements of the original work to a different genre, resulting in a text that is both clearly rooted in and distinctly different from the original. In the case of Ogura Hyakunin Isshū, the popular manga Chihayafuru, a story about a high school kyōgi-karuta club, utilizes the poems and explanations of them to illustrate character growth as the plot progresses and to tie the modern setting to the time the poems were written. This normalization of classical literature into a modern setting is in contrast to manga, like Maki Miyako’s Genji Monogatari, set in and reflecting—through both storyline and illustrations—the Heian period. The question addressed in this paper is whether these images and plotlines in manga contribute to understanding of the texts they represent and revive them as applicable to modern life, or if they merely evoke the past, crystalizing these literary works as relics. The immense popularity of Chihayafuru has shown that revival of these works is possible, but adaptations emphasizing the historical nature of the texts may be less successful in imparting understanding to readers increasingly unfamiliar with the Heian period. Therefore, the future of popular awareness and understanding of classical texts may depend on creative adaptations and not merely illustrated explanations.

"Genji in Woodblock: The Reading Experience of the Edo Period,” J. Christopher Kern, Kenyon College

  • The Edo period (1603-1868) in Japan saw a large rise in literacy, and thus an increased market for books. This included not only popular literature, but editions of literary classics such as poetry collections and tales. Numerous woodblock printed editions of The Tale of Genji were published during the period – a testament to the tale’s enduring cultural value.

    In this paper I will examine three of the woodblock editions of the Genji printed during the Edo period: the Tale of Genji with Pictures (E-iri genji monogatari, 1650), the Bansui ichiro commentary (1652), and the Kogetsushō commentary (1673). Each of these editions presents the text in different ways, with different aids to help the reader. I will focus on the visual appearance of these editions, especially the page layouts. The visual presentation of the information controls the reader’s experience with the Genji, and can suggest what the publisher or editor assumed about the potential audience.

    Since all three were published around the same time, the large differences between them are not simply a matter of changing and developing tastes, but rather show that different audiences and expectations for the Tale of Genji must have existed at the same time. By examining these woodblock editions we can gain a deeper understanding of the medieval reception of the classic work.