Asian Studies Conference Japan

Saturday, June 19 - Sunday 20, 2004
Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University

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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181

Session 19: Room 307

Rewriting Traditions: Travel and Cultural Boundary Crossing in Japanese and Chinese Literature

Organizer and Chair: Benjamin Ridgway, University of Michigan

This panel will focus on the theme of travel in Japanese and Chinese literature. Using an interdisciplinary approach of reading both Chinese and Japanese works, we will explore the way exiled writers and authors of travelogues alike gain new insight into their own literary traditions and at the same time experiment with previously marginalized or foreign literary forms and genres. Each paper will discuss authors' appropriation of works from traditional literature as paradigms through which to interpret their experiences of travel. In addition, they will describe how intellectuals' writings about their journeys transform and enrich indigenous literary traditions. Benjamin Ridgway will examine boundary crossing between Chinese popular and elite cultures in the song lyrics written by the Song dynasty literati Su Shi (1037-1101) during his Huangzhou exile (1080-1084). He will discuss how Su Shi combined performative aspects of the popular song lyric with allusions to the classical shi poetic tradition to reshape his literary self-image. Matthew Fraleigh will investigate the travelogue and kanshi (Chinese poetry) that Narushima Ryuhoku (1837-1884) wrote during his tour of Europe in 1872-73. He will compare Ryuhoku's text with its Chinese and Japanese forerunners, illuminating the compositional context of the early Meiji travel diary genre and showing how this genre stimulated kanshi composition in Japan by opening new possibilities of literary expression. Carolyn FitzGerald will look at Chinese writer, Wang Zengqi's short story, "Revenge," which he wrote in 1944. She will discuss the way Wang contextualizes his experiences of displacement during WWII within the framework of Chinese philosophy, while at the same time drawing from Westernized literary techniques and stylistics.

1) Benjamin Ridgway, University of Michigan
Performing the Rustic in the Landscape of Exile: Literati Identity in the Huangzhou Song Lyrics (Ci) of Su Shi (1037-1101)

During the mid- to late Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) many scholar-officials were sent into exile as the struggles between the New and Old political factions intensified. This paper will explore how Northern Song literati used the song lyric genre to shape their self-image in relation to the landscape of exile. Focusing on the song lyrics written by the leading literati Su Shi during his exile in Huangzhou (1080-1084), this paper will show how Su Shi used historical allusions and descriptions of rural landscape in his song lyrics to promote the value of rusticity. In an unprecedented move, Su Shi employed the song lyric, an urban based popular song form previously used by Northern Song scholar-officials primarily as entertainment at banquets, to write about the rural landscape of Huangzhou. I will argue that the reason that Su Shi wrote more song lyrics during his Huangzhou exile is that the performative qualities of the genre were conducive to reshaping his literary self-image. Three song lyrics from this period will be examined in which he portrays his farmland as a stage on which he adopts the persona of the 4th century hermit-recluse Tao Qian (365-427), as well as the idealized poetic persona of the fisherman. The fisherman's coat becomes a metaphorical costume for Su Shi, which he could put on during a time of crisis and take off again when he eventually left Huangzhou. In the way that Su Shi asserts a sense of value in a marginal location (a rural backwater) and in a marginal genre (the song lyric), these song lyrics are examples of the literati rhetoric of "taking the vulgar as elegant" (ą»Ď≠ą◊ČŽ) and responses to his political opponents who sent him into exile.

2) Matthew Fraleigh, Harvard University
"Dong dao zhu ren" for the West: Narushima Ryuhoku's Kosei nichijo and its Predecessors

From the late Tokugawa period to early Meiji, many Japanese toured the West as participants in diplomatic and research missions, as students, and as private individuals. The resulting accounts that appeared upon the travelers' return provided an important source of information about Western society, its customs, and institutions. In addition to systematic treatments, there were many more personalized accounts with an explicitly literary aim. These texts were often written in kanbun (Sino-Japanese) and included kanshi (poems in Chinese) inspired by foreign scenes. They constituted a genre that enjoyed wide popularity and exerted an important literary influence during early Meiji. This paper focuses on Kosei nichijo, a travelogue composed by Narushima Ryuhoku (1837-1884), a former shogunal official who traveled to the West in 1872-73. Ryuhoku's travelogue is often noted for its influence on subsequent writers, such as Nagai Kafu and Mori Ogai, but this paper will instead focus on the connections between the text and its predecessors, principally Shibusawa Eiichi's Kosei nikki and Bin Chun's Cheng cha bi ji. This paper will first identify several similarities between Ryuhoku's travelogue and the two earlier texts. Beyond simply specifying inspirations and sources, however, my goal is to illuminate the literary context in which such overseas travel diaries and poetry collections were produced and read. The paper attempts to show the process by which particular overseas sites rapidly entered the Sino-Japanese literary lexicon. The genre will be shown to have functioned as a means by which to map new terrains of knowledge and to incorporate these domains as objects of literary expression.

3) Carolyn FitzGerald, University of Michigan
Reinterpreting and Upholding China's Literary Heritage: Displacement and Modernism in Wang Zengqi's "Revenge"

My paper will look at Wang Zengqi's story, "Revenge," that he wrote in 1944 while studying at Southwest Associated University (Lianda) in Yunan. During World War II, Wang traveled to Lianda, which was a temporary wartime institution made up of students and professors from Beijing, Nankai, and Qinghua University. According to his personal essays, "Revenge" is based partly on his experience of fleeing from his hometown in Jiangsu to escape Japanese troops in 1939, during which time he lived with his family in a monastery for about half a year before journeying to Lianda. In "Revenge," Wang reworks these personal memories to tell the story of a wandering swordsman who spends one night at a monastery while on a quest to avenge the man who killed his father. In addition, he utilizes modernist, experimental narrative techniques borrowed from Western literature, such as stream of consciousness narration. Although the influence of European literature on Wang's writing is apparent, his work is also situated within the framework of Chinese philosophy. Apart from making references to Zhuangzi's (369-286 BC) philosophical writings, "Revenge" alludes to Su Shi's (1037-1101 AC) poetry, and introduces the Buddhist concept of "emptiness." In my paper, I will contextualize my reading of "Revenge" within the intellectual history of WWII when many Chinese intellectuals sought to reinterpret China's classics of poetry, prose, and philosophy using broader sociological and historical perspectives. Also, I will explore the incompatibilities between Chinese and European languages and thought systems which become apparent when Wang attempts to use Westernized Chinese language to propound traditional Chinese philosophy.

Discussant: Lawrence Yim, Institute of Chinese Literature & Philosophy


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