As a number of pmjs members have recently completed PhD dissertations, I thought it would be interesting to solicit abstracts, circulate them on the list, and put them online. Here are the first received. Each has been cross-linked with the author's profile. A current e-mail address has also been given. "AAT" numbers are to facilitate reference to ProQuest Digital Dissertations (UMI, more information below). When the number of abstracts grows, this page will contain an index only, and the abstracts themselves will be moved elsewhere.

Dissertation abstracts of any vintage concerning premodern Japan (early Japan, classical Japanese...) are very welcome. Send them to me off list, as e-mail (formatted with italics etc. if possible) or attachment. Use circumflex for macron, as has been done here. If you have written a Japanese version or have Japanese notes, these can be also be put on line: dissertationsj.html.

List of abstracts (last revised 2001/01/28)

Paul Atkins
The Noh Plays of Komparu Zenchiku (1405-?)
Stanford University, 1999

Lewis Edwin Cook
The Discipline of Poetry: Authority and Invention in the Kokindenjû
Cornell University 2000

Robert Omar Khan
Ariake no Wakare
Genre, Gender and Genealogy in a late 12th century Monogatari
University of British Columbia, 1998

Randle Keller Kimbrough
Imagining Izumi Shikibu:
Representations of a Heian Woman Poet in the Literature of Medieval Japan
Yale University, 1999

Greg Levine
Jukôin: Art, Architecture, and Mortuary Culture at a Japanese Zen Buddhist Temple
Princeton University, 1997

Lim, Beng Choo
Kanze Kojirô Nobumitsu and Furyû Noh: A study of the late Muromachi noh theater
Cornell University, 1997

Morgan Pitelka
Raku Ceramics: Traditional and Cultural Reproduction in Japanese Tea Practice, 1574-1942
Princeton University, 2001

Paul S. Atkins

The Noh Plays of Komparu Zenchiku (1405-?)
Stanford University, 1999

Adviser: Thomas W. Hare

This is a study of the plays of Komparu Zenchiku, an actor, playwright, and theoretician of the noh theatre in fifteenth-century Japan. Zenchiku was the spiritual successor to his father-in-law, Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443), the central figure in the history of the noh, from whom he received instruction and treatises on the art. Zenchiku not only created his own theoretical texts and concepts, but he left behind a number of superb plays.

Chapter 1, the Introduction, provides background necessary for approaching the plays­biographical information, cultural context, Zenchiku's theoretical works, comparisons with other playwrights, and basis for attribution. The plays are then grouped loosely along thematic lines, with special attention given to the major works. Chapter 2 examines the relationship between landscape painting and the noh drama, focusing on Bashô and Kakitsubata. Chapter 3 explores Zenchiku's intertextual engagement with the poet and courtier Fujiwara Teika (1162-1241) from his play Teika through his reading of Teika's poetic theory, in particular the "demon-quelling style," into the dramatic portrayal of the Chinese demon-queller Zhong Kui in Shôki. Chapter 4 investigates Zenchiku's depiction of female characters as "woman who wait," via a survey of plays that enact a dramatic stasis, in which the plight of the protagonist does not change-Yôkihi, Kogô, Senju, and Ohara gokô. Chapter 5 contrasts two plays based upon The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari), Tamakazura and Nonomiya, highlighting the problem of ambiguity. Chapter 6, the Conclusion, offers a reading of the play Ugetsu as an index of Zenchiku's dramaturgy, followed by a reexamination of "revealed identity," the key organizing concept of the dissertation. Revealed identity may be defined as a combination of an insistent nondualism with the "theater of revelation." The latter is characterized primarily by a preference for static or ambiguous plot structures, in contrast to Zeami's "theater of transformation."

Approved for publication:
By: Thomas W. Hare
For Department of Asian Languages, Stanford University

*For a Japanese abstract see

Paul S. Atkins <>

Lewis Edwin Cook

Cornell University, 2000

The dissertation is a study of the medieval Japanese discipline known as uta no michi, "the Way of Poetry," in its relation to the Kokindenjû ("Secret Teachings of Ancient and Modern Poems"), an institution for transmitting and receiving the early canon of waka poetry. The historical point of departure for the study is the evidence that as the social and political conditions for maintaining the Way of Poetry as a viable discipline changed from the early 13th century through the 15th century, the form and the pedagogical ideals of the discipline had to be redefined. As of the early 13th century, the Way of Poetry had been legitimized on the model of the quasi-hereditary professions (shoku) in the service of the imperial court. During the 15th century, this model came to be displaced by that of a vocational and scholastic one under which initiates were trained, in exchange for tuition, and authorized to earn a living, independently of court patronage, by retransmitting esoteric teachings.

This reorientation of the institutional basis of the discipline was accompanied by a significant expansion in the role and substance of the Kokindenjû. While the latter had made up the core curriculum of the Way of Poetry in the early 13th century, its scope was restricted to the transmission of authorized recensions of canonical texts and glosses thereon. As its role expanded and it became effectively synonymous with the Way of Poetry, the Kokindenjû was reformed to encompass instruction in the art of "reading properly" in the sense of interpreting and indeed rewriting the canon on behalf of an ambitious esthetic and ideological program upon which the economy of the institution could be grounded and the cultural legitimacy of the discipline reaffirmed.

This reformation was most effectively accomplished in the latter part of the 15th century by Jôen and Sôgi, two poets who collaborated in devising an innovative curriculum and a regime for the training and licensing of master poets which turned the Kokindenjû into an uncannily successful and profitable pedagogical institution. The primary textbook of the reformed Kokindenjû, "Two Readings," is also the earliest complete commentary on the primary canon of waka poetry. A sample collation of Two Readings with sub-commentary is included in the dissertation.

Lewis Cook <>

Robert Omar Khan
Ariake no Wakare
Genre, Gender and Genealogy in a late 12th century Monogatari
University of British Columbia, 1998

Ariake no Wakare was thought to be a lost monogatari, but its unique manuscript was rediscovered in the early 1950s. Internal evidence and thirteenth-century external references suggest a date of composition in the 1190s by an author in Fujiwara Teika's circle, and attest to Ariake's prominence in the thirteenth-century prose fiction canon. Thematically, it is virtually a summa of previous monogatari themes, woven together with remarkable dexterity and often startling originality. The subgenre term giko monogatari 'pseudo-classical tales,' widely used to describe such late Heian and Kamakura period tales, and the associated style term gikobun, turn out to be Meiji era coinages with originally much wider and less pejorative connotations than became current in the twentieth century, a change perhaps related to the genbun'itchi and other language debates on writing styles.

The narrator's use of respect language and narrative asides, together with the interaction between the narration and the plot, evokes a narrator with a distinct point of view, and suggest she may be the lady-in-waiting referred to as Jijû, giving the text somewhat autobiographical overtones, and perhaps accounting for aspects of the narrative structure. Statistical information about the Ariake lexicon, and analysis of respect language and certain lexical fields, reveal that Ariake is linguistically much closer to the Tale of Genji than are the few other giko monogatari for which such information is available, but there are also a few very marked differences. Similar analysis of other giko monogatari would clarify whether these differences are characteristic of the subgenre or peculiar to Ariake no Wakare.

Ariake no Wakare critiques male behaviour in courtship and marriage, and explores female-to-male crossdressing; the male gaze ('kaimami'); incestuous sexual abuse; both male and female same-sex and same-gender love; spirit possession in a context of marriage, pregnancy, and rival female desires, and other instances of the conspicuously gendered supernatural; and the gendered significance of genealogy. The text's treatment of gender role and sexuality focuses on the interaction of performance skills with innate ability or inclination, and foregrounds the mysterious beauty of the ambiguously gendered and liminally human / divine, while genealogy is celebrated as a privileged female domain of knowledge. As such, the text simultaneously invites and resists certain modern critical modes of reading. Ariake's treatment of familiar monogatari elements, instead of being merely imitative, uses changed contexts and interpretations to produce both nostalgia and novelty, rather in the manner of allusive variation in waka poetry.


Part I: Study

Chapter I - Genealogies of the Text: Origins and Sources

Chapter II - 'Giko': Genealogy of a Term - from Style to Subgenre

Chapter III - Telling the Tale: Narrative Structure and Narrator

Chapter IV - The Language of Ariake no Wakare

Chapter V - Gender in Ariake no Wakare: Gender, Genre and Genealogy


Part II: Translation

Book I
Book II (Chapters XII & XIV)
Book III


I Intertextuality
II Kokonchomonjû and Teika
III Use of 'giko' in Literary Histories
IV Ariake no Wakare Chronology
V Ariake no Wakare Characters
VI Ariake no Wakare Promotions and Titles

Robert Khan <>

Randle Keller Kimbrough

Imagining Izumi Shikibu: Representations of a Heian Woman Poet in the Literature of Medieval Japan

Yale University, 1999
AAT 9954329

This dissertation constitutes a study of the fictional and pseudo-biographical representations of Izumi Shikibu (and, to a lesser extent, Ono no Komachi, Sei Shônagon, and other women authors of the Heian court) in selected works of Japanese literature and painting from the Kamakura and Muromachi periods. In particular, it focuses on the widespread medieval appropriation of Izumi Shikibu's name and poetry by a host of Buddhist institutions and proselytizer-entertainers for use in an array of teaching and fund-raising activities, and it explores the effects of these manipulations on several works of Muromachi fiction and on Izumi Shikibu's and other Heian authors' recreations as national cultural icons--Japan's first perhaps truly national literary figures--in the medieval and early-modern periods.

Chapter One, the introduction, provides an overview of several Heian women authors' medieval fictional representations and introduces major themes relevant to these. Chapter Two, divided into three parts, focuses on a group of Kamakura and Muromachi-period tales of Izumi Shikibu and her imagined affair with the priest and poet Dômyô Ajari; Part One introduces early accounts of their affair and the possible reasons for the accounts' dissemination, including the probable use of such stories in Buddhist proselytizing, and Parts Two and Three concern two works of short medieval fiction, Kotohara and Izumi Shikibu, which take up and develop the earlier didactic accounts. Chapter Three, also divided into three parts, focuses on a group of stories of Izumi Shikibu's supposed encounter with the priest Shôkû Shônin on Mt. Shosha, and the use of such stories in a number of Buddhist traditions. Part One examines the use of these tales by medieval Tendai instructional centers in teaching the Lotus Sutra, Part Two examines their use in the Kamakura-period proselytizing activities of Seiganji Temple, and Part Three examines their use in Rakuyô Seiganji engi, a late-Muromachi-period history of Seiganji. Chapter Four, divided into two parts, explores the fictional theme (sometimes propagated in tales spread by women) of Izumi Shikibu as a woman who succeeds in overcoming the spiritual obstructions and impurities of her gender. The essay is followed by a section of annotated translations.

* The four otogizôshi translated are: "Koshikibu," "Koshikibu (beppon)," "Izumi Shikibu," and "Kotohara."

Randle Keller Kimbrough <>

Greg Levine

Jukôin: Art, Architecture, and Mortuary Culture at a Japanese Zen Buddhist Temple

Princeton, 1997
AAT 9734243

This study examines the art and architecture of the Japanese Buddhist temple Jukôin located within the Kyoto Zen monastery Daitokuji. Jukôin was established in 1566 as the mortuary site of the daimyo Miyoshi Nagayoshi (1522-64) and acquired additional layers of memorial function as the mausoleum of its founding abbot, Shôrei Sôkin (1505-83), and the teamaster Sen no Rikyû (1522-91).

Jukôin has long attracted attention because of the sliding door paintings that decorate its main hall, or abbot's quarters. Completed in 1566 by Kano Eitoku (1543-90) and his father Shôei (1519-92), they are among the finest works of large-scale pictorial art to survive from the sixteenth century. Art historians have discussed the paintings meticulously since the 1930's but have rarely looked beyond issues of authorship and style. This has limited our understanding of these paintings and obscured other works of art within the abbot's quarters and he contextual meanings that united them. In this study of the abbot's quarters, I examine a range of icons and images and endeavor to reconnect them with their historical, architectural, and liturgical contexts. My goal is to deepen understanding of these objects while demonstrating the profound energies devoted during the sixteenth century to the integration of art and architecture within Jukôin and other Zen mortuary sites. I interweave formal analysis with study of textual materials (inventories, monastic codes, discourse records, painting inscriptions, etc.) and architectural evidence uncovered during repair of the abbot's quarters.

For most of Jukôin's history, the paintings and statues found within the abbot's quarters were neither viewed as "Art" nor related directly to the practice of Zen meditation. Instead, they were experienced within defined architectural and liturgical settings as servants of mortuary ritual and expressions of familial or institutional identity and influence. Portraits of Miyoshi Nagayoshi, Rikyû, and Shôrei Sôkin are of paramount importance in this respect. Much of this study is focused, therefore, on the production and enshrinement of these portraits. Eitoku and Shôei's paintings, treated heretofore as disembodied masterpieces, are recontextualized within this confluence of mortuary portraiture, architecture, and liturgy.

Greg Levine <>

Lim, Beng Choo

Kanze Kojirô Nobumitsu and Furyû Noh: A study of the late Muromachi noh theater

Cornell University
Degree date: 1997
Advisor: Karen Brazell
AAT 1340489
289 pp.

Kanze Kojirô Nobumitsu (1435 - 1516), the seventh son of the third generation Kanze tayû On'ami (1398 - 1467), is the composer of many colorful noh plays such as Funabenkei (Benkei on board) and Momijigari (Autumn Excursion). Nobumitsu is one of the last noh artists in the history of noh theater to have produced a relatively large number of noh plays. However, Nobumitsu's significance in the history of noh theater is somewhat under-represented in the contemporary noh scholarship.

This dissertation discusses the life and works of Nobumitsu the noh artist, with reference to the categorization and evaluation Nobumitsu and his works enjoy in contemporary noh scholarship.

From every possible perspective, Nobumitsu the noh artist had an eventful life as a musician, actor, and composer, as well as the leader of the Kanze noh troupe during the socially and politically turbulent period at the end of the Muromachi period. Nobumitsu started his career as a drummer although he also ventured into composition at an early age. Taking into consideration the drama-oriented (vis-à-vis literal-oriented) thematic approaches in Nobumitsu's works, one may argue that Nobumitsu had inherited his father, On'ami's "monomane" performance style in terms of noh writing. But as I argue in the dissertation, the social cultural context in which Nobumitsu's works have developed also served as a contributing factor to the formation of his creative style. In view of the noh plays he has composed, his leadership in the Kanze troupe, and his participation in the circles of late Muromachi cultural elite, Nobumitsu occupies an important position in the cultural history of the late Muromachi period in general and in the history of noh in particular.

And if Nobumitsu indeed occupies such a significant position, why is it that his works are much more popular than his name in present day? I explain this apparent contradiction by citing the establishment of the categories of mugen noh and furyû noh in the modern noh discourse. Together with these two is the identification of yûgen, an aesthetic standard propagated initially by Zeami Motokiyo (1363? - 1443?) and Zenchiku (1405 - 1470), and subsequently supported by the relentless efforts of noh scholars in later times, especially in the modern period. The modern noh scholarly discourse is so constructed that noh plays that do not conform to this aesthetic standard are deemed "different", and are accorded only secondary status in terms of importance and literary value. Nobumitsu's works, as I illustrate in full detail later, fits well into this secondary category, which partially explains his position in the modern noh scholarship. This dissertation is divided into two main parts. The first part discusses the life and work of Nobumitsu within the framework of contemporary Japanese literary aesthetics associated with premodern (or classical) Japanese literature mainly in Japan, but also in other western countries. I argue in the first part that Nobumitsu was confronted with a social context very different from his forefathers Kan'ami and Zeami who are often credited as the founders of "noh". Artists - not simply performing artist, but also artists proficient in other kind s of cultural or artistic pursuits - had acquired a newer and more stable social position than their predecessors. A reflection on the changes that took place in the political and cultural scenes during Nobumitsu's time further illustrates the relatively advantageous social positions which Nobumitsu and his cohorts of artists were enjoying. Nobumitsu and his son Nagatoshi (1488 - 1541) and contemporary Konparu Zenpô (1454 - ?) digested certain features from their predecessors and within this conducive environment had established a new direction for noh composition that promised great potential. But the potential for the branching out and development of noh beyond what Zeami advocated was not successful because of the later interference from the military leaders in the Edo period - the legacy of which has a strong impact that persists in our perception of noh today.

The second part of this dissertation discusses noh plays that are attributed to Nobumitsu, and includes one section devoted to plays that have contested authorship but that are sometimes attributed to him. To introduce readers to the versatile artistic creativity of Nobumitsu is only one of the reasons of doing so. Another very important reason to examine closely these noh plays is that they often suggest the various possible expansions of the genre. The almost revolutionary approaches in these plays are often clear evidence of the new and more dynamic social positions of the noh artists. The chapters that discuss Nobumitsu's works are organized according to the themes and subject matters, and also plays with controversial authorship. Finally, I have included an annotated translation of a Nobumitsu play, Taisei Taishi (Prince Taisei), that is no longer performed as an appendix to the dissertation.

Lim Beng Choo <>

Morgan Pitelka


Princeton University, 2001


This study examines the tradition of Raku ceramics, a low temperature, lead-glazed ware first produced in the city of Kyoto, Japan, in the late sixteenth century. Potters developed the technique to meet the demands of tea practitioners, whose tastes had been stimulated by the new mixture of regional and imported material culture in the increasingly diverse urban marketplace. One of these potters was Chôjirô, attested to by an inscription on a ceramic roof-tile dating to 1574. Initially Raku wares were popular with a small group of tea practitioners in and around the capital city, but by the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries amateur and professional potters across Japan had adopted the technique.

Twentieth-century research on Raku ceramics has tended to focus on a narrow group of individual potters and ceramics attributed to them, but this study places equal emphasis on producers, consumers, competitors, and those operating outside the orthodox Raku lineage. Chapter one contrasts the tale of the tea master Sen no Rikyû's patronage of Chôjrô with analysis of documents and archaeological evidence. Chapter two looks at the participation of tea practitioners in the Raku production process, exemplified by the tea ceramics of Hon'ami Kôetsu. Chapter three considers the reinvention of the Raku workshop as the Raku house (ie) in the late seventeenth century, coinciding with a revival of interest in Sen no Rikyû. Chapter four examines the relationship of the Raku house with the iemoto tea schools. Chapter five looks at the emergence of information on Raku ceramics in the print and manuscript culture of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the resulting spread of the Raku ceramic technique. Chapter six considers elite warrior patronage of the Sen tea schools and Raku potters in the early nineteenth century, and the effect of the collapse of this patronage after the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The conclusion examines the attempts of the Sen tea schools and Raku potters to reposition themselves within the new cultural constructs of modernity.

Morgan Pitelka <>

If not available locally, dissertations can be ordered in various formats (PDF file for immediate download or print, microfilm or microfiche) from UMI:

UMI assigns a seven-digit "AAT" number to each thesis. If authors can give this it will help to speed searches. The number is used also to identify the UMI webpage where a 24-page preview can be viewed. The links following each abstract are of these previews.

If you work or study at an institution which has access to the full UMI database, you may be able to download an entire thesis as a PDF file. PDF files can be read with the free Adobe Reader software for either Windows or Macintosh. [download info]

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Michael Watson <>