April 23, 2018/ 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Royce 314

Poems of “This Court”: Japan's Late Antiquity and the Indigenization of Chinese Literature

Colloquia with Professor Brian Steininger, Princeton University

From the seventh through thirteenth centuries, Chinese poetry composed in Japan displays at first a growing facility with continental models, then diverges from them with increasing frequency. Scholarship in recent decades has reexamined this divergence as a localization of the Sinitic literary tradition, but explanations for this shift rarely extend further than the caprice of Japan’s particular aesthetic sensibility. New evidence from tenth-century materials reveals how internal contradictions within classical literary standards, largely adopted unchanged from China, conversely became the motive force that reshaped Sinitic literary composition in Japan.


About the Speaker

Brian Steininger studies the literary culture of early and medieval Japan, with particular interest in the reception of Chinese texts. His first book, Chinese Literary Forms in Heian Japan: Poetics and Practice (Harvard University Asia Center 2017) treats parallel prose and regulated verse compositions in which universalized aesthetic principles were reinterpreted in response to quotidian exigencies. Steininger’s current project, Printing on the Margins: The Textual Network of Medieval Japan, reconstructs the media practices of scholarship in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Japan, tracing material responses to the changing incentives of knowledge circulation under the influence of political reconfiguration and foreign interaction.

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