Crossing the Borders of Modernity:
Fictional Characters as Representations of Alternative Concepts of Life in Meiji Literature (1868-1912)
“The process of civilization is endless. One should not be content with the present state of the Western countries.” (Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901): An Outline of a Theory of Civilization, 1875)
10-11th January 2020
University of Cologne, Neuer Senatssaal, Albertus-Magnus Platz 1, 50931 Cologne, Germany
The Meiji era (1868–1912) was a time of great social change. After more than 650 years, the military rule of the Shogunate came to an end and governmental power finally returned to the Imperial Household. Japan was transformed into a constitutional monarchy, and fundamental reforms of the educational, legal and military systems were carried out in next to no time.
The conference Crossing the Borders of Modernity aims to relate different historical perspectives on the Japanese modernization process to each other. By focusing on fictional texts by Japanese authors, we will select one central aspect of the public discourse of the Meiji era. We shall analyze how authors positioned themselves in their writings in terms of social and political changes. What specific problems did they identify in view of the rapid development from an isolated, feudal and agricultural society to an imperialist, modern industrial nation? What solutions did they offer to their readers?
Particular attention shall be paid to the fictional construction of alternative concepts of life beyond the propagated social ideals. For this, authors use numerous strategies of characterization and character constellation. Accordingly, the conference will not only deal with the fictional portrayal of the crossing of borders, but also with the fictional description of those who cross borders, those who are caught between tradition and modernity, between East and West and between different social groups.
Friday, 10th January 2020
|10.00 - 10.15||Opening Address|
|10.15 - 11.30|
|11.30 - 11.45||Coffee Break|
|11.45 - 13.00|| |
Hiroshi TAKITA: The Isolation of Mushakôji Saneatsu’s Early Characters
|13.00 - 14.00||Lunch Break|
|14.00 - 15.15|
|15.15 - 15.30||Coffee Break|
|15.30 - 17.15|
Saturday, 11th January 2020
|09.30 - 10.45|| |
Timothy J. VAN COMPERNOLLE: Writing the Visual in Meiji Literature: Paintings in the Fiction of Natsume Sôseki
Ingrid FRITSCH: Love and Passion – Wagnerism among writers of the Meiji period
|10.45 - 11.00||Coffee Break|
|11.00 - 12.15|| |
Simone MÜLLER: “Useful” and “Useless” Intellectuals in Literary Works of the Meiji Period: Tsubouchi Shôyô’s Tôseishosei katagi (The Character of Contemporary Students, 1885-1886) and Futabatei Shimei’s Ukigumo (The Drifting Cloud, 1887-1889)
Toshiaki KOBAYASHI: Ways of Self-Reflection: Educated Loafers in the Work of Natsume Sôseki
|12.15 - 13.15||Lunch Break|
|13.15 - 14.30|
|14.30 - 14.45||Coffee Break|
|14.45 - 16.00|| |
Indra LEVY: Can the Meiji Man Laugh?
|16.00 - 16.15||Closing remarks|