SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Shifting Perspectives on Media and Materials in Early Modern Japan


Date: 4 July 2015Time: 9:00 AM

Finishes: 5 July 2015Time: 5:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Djam Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Symposium

Shifting Perspectives on Media and Materials in Early Modern Japan

This two-day international symposium is the first of its kind in the UK to refocus on the varied sources for uncovering early modern Japan such as prints, books and ephemera. Bringing together perspectives from various fields of the human and social sciences, this symposium will provide an interdisciplinary space for discussing the role of sources as media and as research materials.

Although the period from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries is increasingly understood to interlink with the modern period in the field of cultural production, approaches to researching this period continue to be largely limited by narrow disciplinary frameworks. Speakers from Japan, the US and Europe will consider how selected media produced discourse in early modern Japan and how the same media are currently categorised and archived as research materials. The aim is to stimulate debate and to re-evaluate the position of the researcher in interpreting media and materials to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the cultural production of early modern Japan.


Keynote speakers
  • Prof Peter Kornicki (Cambridge University), Taking Edo Period Manuscripts Seriously
  • Prof Yabuta Yutaka (Kansai University), Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Research Materials
Opening remarks
  • Shane McCausland (SOAS, University of London)
  • Kenichiro Aratake (Tohoku University, Sendai)
  • Claire-Akiko Brisset (Université Paris Diderot)
  • Maki Fukuoka (University of Leeds)
  • Yokota Fuyuhiko (Kyoto University)
  • Suzuki Hiroyuki (Tokyo Gakugei University)
  • Radu Leca (SOAS, University of London)
  • Ewa Machotka (Leiden University)
  • Doreen Mueller (SOAS, University of London)
  • Morihiro Satow (Kyoto Seika University)
  • Niels van Steenpaal (Kyoto University)
  • Hiroyuki Suzuki (Tokyo Gakugei University)
  • Hans B. Thomsen (University of Zurich)
  • Fuyuhiko Yokota (Kyoto University) 
  • Rebekah Clements (Cambridge University)
  • Christine Guth (Royal College of Arts, V&A)
  • Alfred Haft (British Museum, SISJAC)
  • Patti Kameya (University of St. Thomas)
  • Morihiro Satow


Peter Kornicki

Peter Kornicki is Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies at Cambridge University and Professorial Research Associate at the Japan Research Centre, SOAS, University of London. His research focuses on how ideas and literature circulated, how books were read and what factors determined their reception. He has published numerous catalogues of the large collection of early Japanese books at Cambridge University Library and of various other collections in Manchester, Lille and Moscow. His seminal work  The book in Japan: a cultural history from the beginnings to the nineteenth century has made a major contribution to the study of the history of the book in Japan. His current research interests focus on the adaptation of Chinese texts for Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean readers in the 17th-19th centuries. He is currently writing on the abandonment of movable-type printing in Japan, on Hayashi Razan's interest in translation and on a Japanese medical manual in the early 17th century. He has spent a total of six years in Japan, mostly in Kyoto. He was awarded the Japan Foundation Special Prize (with Hayashi Nozomu in 1992), elected a fellow of The British Academy (2002), elected a member of the Academia Europea (2012) and has been awarded the Yamagata Bantô prize (2013). In 2010 he became managing editor of the new journal East Asian Publishing and Society, which is now in its fifth year of publication. 

Yutaka Yabuta

Yutaka Yabuta is Emeritus Professor of Japanese History at Kansai University, Osaka. He is also Director of Hyogo Prefectural History Museum in Himeji City, Japan. His research focuses on the social and regional history of early modern Japan. Under the leadership of the late Professor Oba Osamu, he researched Chinese ships that had drifted to Nagasaki and Chinese residences in Nagasaki in the early modern period. He has made major contributions to gender perspectives on the study of the history of women in Tokugawa, Japan. His English-language publications include Rediscovering women in Tokugawa Japan (2000) and “Nishitani Saku and Her Mother: Writing in the Lives of Edo Period Women” in The Female as Subject: Reading and Writing in Early Modern Japan (2010). He has been a seminal force in the promotion of international exchange to advance the field of Japanese Studies and his monograph Nihon Kinseishi no Kanōsei (2005) explored the possibilities and directions of studying early modern Japan. He continues to be engaged in the educational and research activities of the Kansai University Institute for Cultural Interaction Studies (ICIS).

Read more: full programme

Organiser: Doreen Mueller, Radu Leca, Centres & Programmes Office

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893

Sponsor: SOAS Japan Research Centre, Japan Foundation, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation