SOAS University of London

SOAS shortlisted for ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2016

1 September 2016

SOAS University of London has been shortlisted for ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2016 for a project on Shunga led by Andrew Gerstle, Professor of Japanese Studies.

Professor Gerstle has been shortlisted for his research project on Shunga, a form of traditional Japanese erotic art. The Leverhulme-funded project set out to restore the cultural status of Shunga after its ban from the 19th Century to the present day. The project explored collections internationally, documenting over 2000 shunga books and showed how Shunga was an integral part of Japanese culture until the end of the 19th century.

The project, which has now concluded, had a major impact in Japan through two highly-acclaimed exhibitions in Tokyo and Kyoto. From being seen as a form of low-grade pornography, Shunga is now widely understood as a significant art form depicting mutual sexual pleasure, and the interaction of sex and humour in daily life.

The project involved collaboration with Timothy Clark at the British Museum and more than thirty top scholars from Europe, Asia and North America. It has led to numerous publications, including a monograph in Japanese by Gerstle (2011), the British Museum catalogue (2013, 500 pages, 8000 initial run, now in its third printing), its Japanese translation (2015), and an acclaimed British Museum exhibition in 2013-14, which had about 90,000 visitors.

The Times Higher Education Awards exemplify the talent, dedication and innovation of individuals and teams across all aspects of university life, showing countless reasons why institutions continue to prosper. The winners will be announced on 24 November 2016.