David Atherton, Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, will present his current research at our next Luncheon Series event on Tuesday, March 15. His talk will be on "Birthing a Book: Imagining Authorial Creativity in Early Modern Japan."
What is an author? What does an author do? How do figments of an author’s imagination transform into words on a page, or into a book for sale? How does an author’s labor compare to that of others involved in the bookmaking process: designers, printers, publishers? To what extent is an author’s work molded by external forces, such as market pressures, or genre conventions, or the expectations and sometimes insistent demands of enthusiastic fans? These questions—still relevant today—were vibrantly alive in the pages of popular fiction of the Edo period (1600-1867), a time that witnessed the development of a popular print market and the emergence of the figure of the commercial author. This talk will examine works of illustrated fiction from the turn of the nineteenth century in which the author himself (inevitably himself) came to feature as the main protagonist: battling deadlines, wrestling (sometimes physically) with conventions, and resorting to elaborate schemes in search of ever-elusive inspiration. Through a consideration of the entertaining, often hapless personae authors adopted in the pages of their books, I will explore the ways these works craft a complex vision of the role of the commercial author and the nature of authorial creativity.
Dr. Atherton's talk will begin at 12:00 p.m. and will be held in the CAS Conference Room, 1424 Broadway, two doors north of Starbucks on University and Broadway.