To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
In Session: Rethinking the Pedagogical Canon of Classical Japanese Literature in the West
3: What Folk Music Can Tell Us About the Classical Japanese Pedagogical Canon in the West
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Yale University, United States
The development of the western pedagogical canon of classical Japanese literature is a conflation of several bodies of literature and epistemologies, including the canon of Japanese literature in Japan, its attendant body of Japanese scholarship and intellectual history, translations, and western notions of literature and literary study. How does this conflation of elements come together to form the relationship between Japanese literary scholarship in the west and its counterpart in Japan? Further, how can that relationship inform the way we understand the western pedagogical canon of classical Japanese? Focusing on vernacular poetry, this paper will look at the field of kayōkenkyū “folk song studies.”
In Japanese scholarship, kayō studies comprises a distinct field of classical poetry based on the theory of min’yō “folk song," which views early verse as ancient, oral folk songs that are the source of the written poetic tradition. Kayō studies places poetry within the framework of cultural history, describing it in terms of a tripartite intersection with ritual (girei), court music (gagaku), and regional song (fuzoku uta) in contrast to a literary historical approach. Kayō never took hold in western scholarship as an academic discipline, methodological approach, or major subject of criticism. This paper considers what historical factors contributed to this outcome and wider implications for the development of the western classical canon, which, I argue, has largely fallen short of cultivating theories of early song that incorporate their relationship with ritual, court music, and synchronic taxonomies of songs in, and as, literary production.