Session Abstract: Japan’s emergence as a modern nation-state was accompanied by a fascination with cultural margins. This panel seeks to continue that investigation of the margins of 20th century Japan. Drawing together scholars from literature, film, and religious studies, the panel will consider a range of marginal practices-- poetry and advertising copy, textuality and animation, earthbound spirits on the fringes of human experience, and a travelling magician—in order to reflect on moments of marginalization as cultural negotiations that shed light on the social, historical and political context which made them possible.
In “Marginal Moji: The Recentering of Marginalized History in Bakemonogatari,” Christopher Smith considers the significance a voice from the past transcribed using prewar orthography in this popular animated work. In “Bringing the Earthbound Dead Back from the Margins in 21st Century Japanese Religious Non-Fiction” Kristina Buhrman considers how a formerly subcultural notion about ghosts reemerged after 3.11 in order to reflect on the border between popular consciousness and traditional religion. Yoshihiro Yasuhara considers the intersection of modern poetry and ad copy in “Rethinking Poetics from the Margin of Japan’s 1980s: Tanikawa Shuntarō’s Totality of Japanese Language and Amano Yūkichi’s Theory of Advertising.” Finally, in “Magic, Modernity, and the Attraction of Shōkyokusai Tenkatsu (1886-1944)” Charles Exley considers the contributions of Japan’s most famous female magician to popular culture in her transformation from marginal assistant to star.
By highlighting stories which have heretofore evaded representation, this panel lends more support for the ongoing practice of questioning dominant historical narratives.
Paper Presenter: Charles Exley – University of Pittsburgh
Paper Presenter: Christopher Smith – University of Florida
Paper Presenter: Kristina Buhrman – Florida State University
Paper Presenter: Yoshihiro Yasuhara – Carnegie Mellon University