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Panel 4 | 12:30-2:30 | ROOM A

12:30-2:30 ~ Panel 4 ~ ROOM A

4 - Early Film (Hintz Alumni Center)

“Osaki Midori's Nansensu,” Nathen Clerici, SUNY New Platz

  • Osaki Midori (1896-1971), a writer active in the 1920s and early 1930s, was smitten with film. She wrote an essay series titled Eiga mansō (“Rambling thoughts on film”⁠) for Nyonin geijutsu (Women’s arts) in 1930 in which she focused on the psychology of the amateur filmgoer who is “cinematized” (eiga-ka). Notable in these essays is the attention lavished upon Charlie Chaplin, or rather, upon his image.  His hat and cane are fetishes that stoke her imagination, and Osaki’s writing mixes unrequited love with absurdist imagery to create pathos. This mix was a core element of the “nonsense” (nansensu) aesthetic that was at the vanguard of early Shōwa-era modernism. Osaki was a self-avowed fan of “nonsense literature,” and in this talk I look at how she used nansensu to explore romantic desire. I argue that the dual nature of nansensu makes it the ideal vehicle for laying bare the illusion behind its humorous frivolity. The cinematic image, in turn, was an illusion that allowed free rein for Osaki’s literary imagination. I consider not only her essays on film, but also her short fiction and a film screenplay to see how the cinematic image influenced her perspective on desire and agency.

"Imagined Histories, Invented Languages: Sound Film and the Creation of Jidaigeki Kotoba,” Kerim Yasar, Ohio State University

  • Despite recent interventions by scholars such as Sarah Kozloff, Jeff Jaeckle, and Jane Hodson, film dialogue remains an area of inquiry relatively neglected by film scholars and linguists alike. The language used in film dialogue differs from natural spoken language in obvious ways; less obvious, perhaps, are the ways it differs from dialogue in fiction and stage plays. In this paper I examine the early development of the invented language(s) used in jidaigeki period films after the introduction of sound. Although this synthetic language borrowed from actual historical usage, the language of kabuki and bunraku theaters, and the kinds of language devised for the emerging popular genre of jidai shōsetsu (period novels), it was significantly different from all of them. Like the language in jidai shōsetsu, it was a variety of what Bryony Stocker has called “bygonese”: a language that conveys period flavor while remaining readily intelligible to modern readers and audiences. Unlike the language of those texts, it had to be comprehended aurally during real-time viewing; dialect and status differences had to be levelled out, while gendered language (which was, in fact, a modern invention) was introduced. I discuss early theoretical considerations of jidaigeki kotoba by writers such as Yasuda Kiyoo, attempts at such dialogue in the early sound films of jidaigeki directors such as Itō Daisuke and Yamanaka Sadao, and follow jidageki kotoba’s development to its high point in postwar cinema, particularly in the screenplays of Hashimoto Shinobu, famed collaborator of Kurosawa Akira and Kobayashi Masaki.