Session Abstract: What work do literary genre classifications do, and what happens when texts plot escape from genre boundaries? Genre divisions in premodern Japanese poetry have served to reinforce constructed literary binaries between the courtly and the colloquial, the collaborative and the individual, and "Japan" and "China." This panel examines poetry anthologies, poetic sequences, and poetics treatises that disrupt these genre assumptions and binaries--inflection points where spoken and written conventions collide, or where concerns of visuality and medium introduce splits in genre categories. These texts strain against expectations, breaking out from the confines of earlier visual/material or oral/performative contexts.
Matthieu Felt illustrates that citations of the text Nihongi in twelfth-century poetic treatises originate in the tradition of oral anecdotes, but when adapted to the written register, become an admixture of Japanese and Chinese historical material that exceeds any one written source. Bonnie McClure argues that when individual links from 100-verse renga sequences are anthologized separately, they operate by different rules and celebrate different aspects of composition, functioning much like a genre of their own. Kai Xie demonstrates that in the Chinese lines of Japanese-Chinese alternating linked verse, not only are Chinese genre conventions reversed by the incorporation of popular, sometimes vulgar Japanese content, but these reversals rely on visual wordplay and the unconventional use of sinographs.
These texts repackage and recombine central elements from those they take as genre precedents, and in so doing create new spaces of transgression, freedom, and play.
Paper Presenter: Matthieu Felt – University of Florida
Paper Presenter: Bonnie McClure – University of California, Berkeley
Paper Presenter: Kai Xie – Kenyon College