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Center for Japanese Studies pres.

CJS Noon Lecture Series | Rebirth, Recognition, Destiny, and the Theatrical in Hamamatsu Chūnagon Monogatari

Terry Kawashima, Professor and Chair, Department of Asian Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Terry Kawashima, Professor and Chair Department of Asian Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston Terry Kawashima, Professor and Chair Department of Asian Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Terry Kawashima, Professor and Chair Department of Asian Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston
The paradigm of reincarnation that is central to Hamamatsu chūnagon monogatari, a mid-11th century Japanese prose narrative, is metaphorically analogous to aspects of theater. The text subverts the reliability of visual cues for identification, dissociating the reincarnating being from its physical shell in a way that resembles the relationship between an actor and a role. Hamamatsu also de-emphasizes one’s agency in the karmic cycle, instead portraying it as an inevitable unfolding of narrative along predetermined paths, much like a script for a play. Through the presentation of reincarnation in these theatrical terms, the text produces a dimensional, layered subjecthood.

Terry Kawashima is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She specializes in literature and culture of the Heian and medieval periods in Japan (800-1500), with a particular interest in how texts envision and contribute to the construction of authority, legitimacy, and power in social, political, religious, and gendered arenas. She is the author of two books: Writing Margins: The Textual Construction of Gender in Heian and Kamakura Japan, about gendered discourses of marginalization in poetry and prose, and Itineraries of Power: Texts and Traversals in Heian and Medieval Japan, about narrative strategies of movement, such as representations of exile and divine travel. She is currently working on a project on tropes of rebirth in premodern and modern Japan.

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Terry Kawashima, Professor and Chair Department of Asian Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston Terry Kawashima, Professor and Chair Department of Asian Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Terry Kawashima, Professor and Chair Department of Asian Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston

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