Convener(s): Professor Jennifer Guest and Dr Chigusa Yamaura
Speaker(s): Professor Daniel Poch, Associate Professor in Japanese Studies, University of Hong Kong
These seminars will occur live and will not be recorded. Unauthorized recording is strictly prohibited.
Please click on the seminar title to register in advance and receive the meeting details.
“Ninjō and Sōseki's Writing of "Literature" in Early Twentieth-Century Japan”
Ninjō and Sōseki's Writing of "Literature" in Early Twentieth-Century Japan
Why did Natsume Sōseki, today canonized as one of Japan’s most important novelists, start writing novels in the early twentieth century despite his suspicion, if not dislike, of the genre? The talk explores the clash between premodern and modern conceptions of “literature” within Sōseki’s novels, asking what consequences the intersection of the modern novel with older, didactic conceptions of literature held for his representation of love, desire, and emotion. It also contextualizes the contradictions inherent in Sōseki’s literary project within the broader contentions surrounding “human emotion” (ninjō) in the nineteenth-century Japanese novel, across the early modern-modern divide—the subject of my recently published book Licentious Fictions (Columbia UP, 2020).
Daniel Poch is an Associate Professor in Japanese Studies at the University of Hong Kong, specializing in early modern and modern Japanese literature. He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2014. His first book, Licentious Fictions: Ninjō and the Nineteenth-Century Japanese Novel, was published by Columbia University Press in 2020. Other recent peer-reviewed publications include the article “Reclaiming Ethics Through Love: ‘Literature’ in Natsume Sōseki’s Novel Sorekara (Japan Forum 2020), as well as articles on Sōseki’s literary theory and early Meiji translation published in such journals as Monumenta Nipponica and Japanese Language and Literature.