January 23, 2017/ 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Royce 314

Embedded Film, Embodied Reception: Tsurumi Shunsuke's Autobiographical Film Criticism

Presentation by Junko Yamazaki, UCLA Terasaki Center Postdoctoral Fellow

Reflecting on the aftermath of World War II in the emerging Cold War context of Japan’s compromised sovereignty, members of the multidisciplinary intellectual group Science of Thought (Shisō no kagaku) sought possibilities of “thought” (shisō) in ‘the people’ and turned their attention to the production and reception of mass culture. Jidaigeki (Japanese period films) presented a unique challenge for envisioning postwar modernity and democracy in Japan. US Occupation censors and progressive Japanese critics alike regarded jidaigeki with suspicion, calling into question its relationship to the past (i.e., “feudal remnants”). This talk focuses on one of the group’s founders Tsurumi Shunsuke’s critical review of 1952 jidaigeki film The Mad Woman in Kimono (Furisode kyōjo) and examine his populist defense of jidaigeki. Born into one of Japan’s most politically and intellectually prominent families and educated in the philosophy department at Harvard, Tsurumi struggled to define the significance and political utility of jidaigeki by negotiating his own position in relation to not only “the people,” but also with regard to the compromised sovereignty of occupied and post-occupation Japan. By unpacking various interrelated negotiations at work in Tsurumi’s review and the film itself, I argue for the utility of jidaigeki as an analytical lens through which we can begin to understand the dynamic historicity of postwar Japanese cinema. 

About the speaker
Junko Yamazaki is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies and Lecturer in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. She received her Ph.D. in the joint-degree program in the departments of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago in 2016. Her work broadly speaking focuses on the modern and contemporary experience of technological media in a global context.
Her current book project, Jidaigeki’s Postwar: Visions of the Present in Japanese Period Films, examines the processes through which cinema has contributed to the shaping of social reality in the context of postwar Japan by tracing the historical transformation of a popular form of period film known as jidaigeki.

Cost : Free and open to the public

Download file: YAMAZAKI-cl-hts.pdf