SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

The Rise and Fall of Modern Japanese Literature: The Fall

Typewriter on the beach
John Whittier Treat (Yale University)

Date: 1 November 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 1 November 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Seminar


The end of modern Japanese literature has been prophesied since its start a century and a half ago, but today the critique is especially panicked as literacy itself looks under attack. This talk surveys the current state of writing in Japan and links it with larger changes in a geopolitical world facing not just technological innovation, but unprecedented challenges to the modern nation-state as the consequences of both globalization and the Anthropocene become clearer. Writers discussed include Ōe Kenzaburō, Takahashi Gen’ichirō, and Tawada Yōko.

John Whittier Treat

Speaker Biography

John Whittier Treat is Professor Emeritus of East Asian Languages & Literatures at Amherst College, Yale University.  He joined the Yale faculty in 1999 after teaching for eighteen years at the University of Washington, Berkeley, Stanford and Texas.  He teaches courses in modern Japanese literature and criticism, and occasionally Korean studies and LGBT studies.  In recent years he has had visiting appointments at Seoul National University and the University of New South Wales.  He has held elective office in the Association of Asian Studies and the Modern Language Association, and he edited the Journal of Japanese Studies for ten years. His essays have appeared in positions, PMLA, the Journal of Asian Studies, the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, boundary 2, and Gendai Shiso.  His two book projects now underway are a history of modern Japanese literature (The Rise and Fall of Modern Japanese Literature) and a study of pro-Japanese Korean intellectuals under Japanese occupation (Too Close to the Sun).

Organiser: SOAS Japan Research Centre

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