Publishing about Asia in Academic Journals and Book Series (Roundtable)


) Sayumi Takahashi Harb, Independent Scholar



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3) Sayumi Takahashi Harb, Independent Scholar
Expanding Kyoto’s Gendered Geographies: Meiji Modernity and the Rise of “Urban” Utamakura

The self-conscious shift from the discursively contained world of classical courtly waka towards innovations in tanka featuring unorthodox topics and vernacular diction comprised one of the hallmarks of “modern” Japanese poetry in the Meiji period. What happened to the classical topoi of utamakura, and how did the geography of place names rich in poetic associations shift into more urbanized mappings? How did the changing, modernizing landscape of Kyoto (not to mention the political traumas of the process of modernization itself) affect the poetic resonances of specific places within the capital and its environs and generate “new” urban utamakura such as those seen in tanka by Yosano Akiko (1878–1942)? How did the physically re-location/displacement of the emperor to Edo/Tokyo alter the tenor of the space of Kyoto in waka, a poetic form that had long been legitimated politically and aesthetically by imperial courtly patronage and participation? What kind of pressure(s) did the impinging presence of foreign powers and their cultures during the Meiji Restoration put on the cultural map of traditional poetry? One clue lies in the work of relatively marginalized Kyoto poets who straddled the Bakumatsu period into the Meiji such as Otagaki Rengetsu (1791–1875) and Zaisho Atsuko (1825–1900). I will be exploring how women poets in particular played with established conventions of classical utamakura for their own ends, and will make a case for mapping a gendered cartography of the 31-syllable form more generally.





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