This panel is a module in an ongoing book project that explores Literature in Japanese in the Heisei era. While modern literature from Meiji to Shōwa departs from the intimate tie to the place of Edo/Tokyo, it retains a certain mode of reality with reference to space. Literature in Japanese in the past three decades explores a new spatial language to make imaginary and virtual spaces the “home” or “landscape” of storytelling, in juxtaposition with actual references to the reality of space to generate remembrance, nostalgia, loss, or a critique of social and cultural disintegration. Hweidi examines a multi-dimensional space in Ishimure Michiko’s Lake of Heaven (1997) that embodies the remains of a village drowned in a dam construction and the memories and dreams of its former villagers, a powerful manipulation of spatial imagination to address environmental ethics. Kasza focuses on the space of memory--basho, tokoro, sekai--in Shiraishi Kazufumi’s novels to demonstrate that space plays a significant role to shape memory. Niehaus’ “intimate heterotopias” revisit Tawada Yōko’s early novels and argues that she demands a new language to theorize intimacy in heterotopic sites on the margins of society. Yiu discusses Oyamada Hiroko’s transformation of the hidden underclass in Japanese society into a “Factoryland” filled with fantastical birds and beasts. In different angles, these papers explore new spatial dimensions in contemporary literature in Japanese to address questions of memory, environmental issues, gender, and social injustice.
Paper Presenter: Angela Yiu – Sophia University
Paper Presenter: Munia Hweidi – Sophia University
Paper Presenter: Kevin Niehaus – Stanford University
Paper Presenter: Justyna Weronika Kasza – Seinan Gakuin University