This is the original message I sent out to colleagues by email in September, 1999. Links that are longer work have been removed. The mailing list service "Listbot" did disappear eventually, but not without fair warning.
This is Michael Watson (Meiji Gakuin University, Yokohama). Some of you I know well, some only from conferences and some only by your work. Forgive me for approaching you in this way. I'll be writing to you all directly with a slightly longer introduction to this proposed mailing list.
For the last few years I've been thinking of starting a mailing list in "Premodern Japanese Studies" (PMJS), focussed around the sorts of things that a number of us are interested in: classical literature, cultural history, religion, art.
At the Columbia University "Canon" conference in spring 1997, Lewis Cook (Queens, CUNY) and I found that we had a mutual interest in the idea, and discussed it in e-mail exchanges thereafter. Some of you may remember my asking you at that time whether you might be interested in participating in such a list.
I was encouraged by the support for a premodern list, much smaller than H-JAPAN and with a different focus than the inactive JLIT-L. What's held me back has been mainly the worry that it might be difficult, expensive or time-consuming to set up and maintain. I've now found that there are several sites which offer free hosting of mailing lists, and offer the services (archiving, signing on/off) that would ensure a simple life for me as "list owner" and make it easy for you to take part when and how you prefer.
After comparing a number of sites in Japan and elsewhere, I've opted for http://www.listbot.com as it seems to offer a plain and reliable service. Supported by Microsoft and the search engine HotBot, it is not a fly-by-night operation that disappear suddenly or sell our addresses to advertisers.
In the initial setup, I have put various limits on access to the list. Once the list gets going, we can decide whether to open it for anyone to sign on, make the archives generally available, and so on.
I see the list as being a sort of "Notes and Queries" type like the wonderful Western medieval one I belong to: "Medieval Texts - Philology - Codicology and Technology"--see my blurb at: mailing lists or their archive.
In my mind, it should be the sort of place where members could ask "is there a modern edition of X?", "does anyone know of any examples of [matricide] in early Japanese literature?" as well as asking "Anyone interested in forming a panel on Y for EAJS in August, 2000?"
Announcements would include things like: "If you are in Tokyo this autumn, don't miss the exhibition of Shigisan engi emaki at the Suntory Art Museum, on until Oct 24" or "there's a great new edition of [Heike monogatari] in [Iwanami bunko]" or "Have a look at the UTAHI HANGYO BUNKO collection of noh texts" (all actual examples).
Initially I'll write to colleagues in the field with whom I'm acquainted, in person or on the web. If you know of other likely participants, please suggest that they drop me a line (watson[at]k.meijigakuin.ac.jp) introducing themselves and I'll include them in the next batch of invitations I send out.
return to: PMJS archive index / PMJS index / members / translations
pmjs editor: Michael Watson <watson[at]k.meijigakuin.ac.jp>