A Floating World of Language: English in Tokyo

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Ann Larabee

Arriving in Tokyo without sufficient knowledge of Japanese, I was overwhelmed with writing. I was used to the signposts of the Roman alphabet, even in places previously traveled where I had not known the language. The Roman alphabet faded into the background contours of the cities I wandered, though I remember a long English description etched on a Helsinki store window that made me laugh aloud as it transformed my language into a whimsical nonsense nature poem. Alan Watts once spoke of “the sensible contexts in which nonsense may have its way.” Here global capitalism—that allegedly sensible model of selling, selecting and buying—revealed itself as the freighter of nonsense.

Here in Japan was an experience of English as an oasis of meaning in an unintelligible world of opaque signs. But that was only for me, an English speaker, alighting on anything that might create meaning, the bewildered traveler searching for the safe encounter. For Japanese speakers, these signs are not to be read, but to be appreciated for their design aesthetics. There is no reason to proofread them, since their purpose is not to inform. English words …read more

Source: http://www.romanticconnections2014.org/blog/a-floating-world-of-language-english-in-tokyo

CFP: NASSR 2014 – Romantic Connections

By admin

We invite proposals for an international Romanticism conference, to be
held at the University of Tokyo on June 13–15, 2014. This event will
bring together four scholarly societies from three continents: it is a
supernumerary conference of the North American Society for the Study
of Romanticism (NASSR), also supported by the British Association for
Romantic Studies (BARS), the German Society for English Romanticism
(GER), and the Japan Association of English Romanticism (JAER).

Over the last two decades, there has been sustained scholarly interest
in the connections between European Romanticism and the peoples,
cultures, and literatures of the rest of the world. While our approach
will be informed by the legacy of Saidian “Orientalism,” we are
particularly interested in models of intercultural connection which
refine or challenge totalizing models of domination and subordination.
We welcome papers that shed light upon the question of “connection”
from the broadest range of perspectives: imaginative, linguistic,
material, social, sexual, scientific, economic, and political.

Drawing on our location in Tokyo, we will use this conference to
consider the broader task of forging connections between Eastern and
Western literature and scholarship. In a Japanese context, the idea of
interpersonal “connection” (kizuna) takes on a different resonance,
because of its close connection to the project of recovery (saisei)
following the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. This
conference wishes …read more

Source: http://www.rc.umd.edu/blog_rc/?p=622

JISC: Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences

By Jo Taylor

So you spend three or four years chained to your computer. You read so many books and articles that your dreams start to conform to the MHRA style guide. You have moments of pure excited joy and (usually longer) moments of unadulterated despair. And at the end of it all, you produce your thesis, your article, or your book.
And no one reads it. No one can, outside a very small group of fellow-academics whose institutional affiliations mean that they can access your work. Even institutions are not operating on a level playing field; say half of your colleagues are from small institutions whose libraries just don’t have a big budget, or they specialise in a subject area very different to yours. A huge proportion of your intended audience is already locked out from being able to discover your work. The problem is even more acute if you’re publicly-funded. Almost everyone you walk past in the street is contributing something to your research – but they can’t read it, unless they’re willing to pay extortionate amounts of money to access it. And, remember, they’ve already paid for it; their taxes are the reason you could carry out your research to begin …read more

Source: http://joannaetaylor.blogspot.com/2013/07/jisc-open-access-monographs-in.html

Surveillance – a family drama

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Hampshire Field. Photo: Peter Jordan

Surveillance was one of the Romantic age’s master themes. Some of the period’s most best-loved works meditate on the pernicious social effects of overintrusive prying. Keats’s ode “To Autumn” – usually read as a portrayal of bucolic rural idyll – catches a group of underpaid labourers in the act of evading their foreman’s eye by lying between the deep furrows (“Who hath not seen thee”, indeed?). Similarly Coleridge’s much anthologized “Frost at Midnight”, ostensibly a touching cradle song to the poet’s infant son, captures the uneasy spirit of the watchful 1790s with its chilling description of the frost as a “secret ministry”, conjuring Prime Minister Pitt’s network of spies, in whose crosshairs Coleridge had recently found himself along with confrere, William Wordsworth.

Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

James Gillray, “Smelling out a Rat” (1790)

Again, in Gillray’s 1790 caricature “Smelling out a Rat” (right), which turns the Tory Edmund Burke into a giagantic snooping nose.

Even Fuseli’s 1781 painting “The Nightmare” (below) – which seemingly depicts the contents of the female sleeper’s febrile imagination …read more

Source: http://richardmarggrafturley.weebly.com/1/post/2013/06/surveillance-a-family-drama.html

A New website for the Friends of Coleridge

By admin

The Friends of Coleridge, an open society dedicated to the appreciation of the poet, have recently launched a new website that offers a number of useful resources.

They’ve provided a collection of graphic and written portraits by his contemporaries, an edited and contextualized selection of his poetry, a timeline of the major events in his life, and a guide to corrections to the Princeton Poetical Works series, among others.

In addition, the site offers information about the Friends, their semi-annual publication The Coleridge Bulletin, and their other Coleridge-oriented programs of interest to both scholars and enthusiasts.

…read more

Source: http://www.rc.umd.edu/blog_rc/?p=620

“Romantic Connections” in recent Tokyo art exhibitions

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Alex Watson

The fascinating and unexpected connections between Romanticism and Japanese culture are displayed in a number of temporary exhibitions on show in Tokyo.

The recently-finished “Imaginary Architecture from Piranesi to Minoru Nomata,” at the Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, traced a tradition of artwork depicting architecture that does not exist in real life from Romantic-period London to contemporary Tokyo.

The exhibition featured a number of notable Romantic works, including English painter John Martin’s sublime and terrifying 1823 illustrations of Paradise Lost and the eighteenth-century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Imaginary Prisons, a series of prints imagining vast subterranean vaults with distorted staircases and labyrinthine machines. By placing these pieces alongside more recent works such as the contemporary Japanese artist Minoru Nomata’s images of fantasy architecture, the show highlighted surprising and illuminating points of connection and contrast.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Carceri Plate VII – The Drawbridge (1761)

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Minoru Nomata, blue construction-2 (2011)

Piranesi’s and Nomata’s works display quite different ideas about the status of history in relation to …read more

Source: http://www.romanticconnections2014.org/1/post/2013/06/romantic-connections-in-recent-tokyo-art-exhibitions.html

Mount Fuji granted cultural heritage status

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Fuji seen from Lake Kawaguchiko (image by Midori)

As Fuji gains UNESCO World Heritage status, the Japan Times has a great article exploring the mountain’s influence on Japanese arts and culture. It covers Fuji’s role as a place of pilgrimage in seventeenth-century Japanese travel literature; the “Fuji viewing hills” built in the gardens of wealthy Edo city-dwellers; and the ukiyo-e prints of the mountain by Hokusai and other artists, exported during the late nineteenth century, which played an important role in establishing Fuji as an international symbol of Japan.

The mountain is 100 km from Tokyo and clearly visible in good weather – although nowadays you generally need to find a higher vantage point than a “Fuji viewing hill.”


…read more

Source: http://www.romanticconnections2014.org/1/post/2013/06/mount-fuji-granted-cultural-heritage-status.html

Reading Group Report: ‘Words for Remembering’: Twentieth Century Propaganda and Nineteenth-Century England

By NENC

24 April 2013

Led by Kate Katigbak (Durham)

The focus of this session was to question the ways in which cultural thinkers construct definitions of ‘Britishness’ in both the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We opened the session by watching a short propaganda film made by Humphrey Jennings, entitled ‘Words for Battle’. Members were interested by its title, as it suggested that the power of the written word was influential upon concepts of nationhood and identity, especially in relation to its World War Two context. The piece aligned footage of the 1940s conflict with readings of poetry and political speeches. Such a fusion proved thought-provoking, not only in its relation of battle to the written and spoken word, but also the way that speeches by figures such as Winston Churchill seemed to usurp the place previously occupied by poetry in national consciousness.

We discussed the choices of poetry in Jennings’ film, commenting that they were linked by a theme of conflict that transcended historical timeframes. For example, William Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ lyric, reflecting on the failures of the French Revolution, and Rudyard Kipling’s poetry, lamenting the fall of the British Empire, seemed strikingly appropriate for …read more

Source: http://www.northeast19thcentury.org/2013/06/reading-group-report-words-for.html

Shakespeare at Hay … Literature and sustainability

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On 23 May, Jayne, Sid and I presented our recent work on Shakespeare and sustainability at the Telegraph Hay Festival. Thanks are due to INSPIRE/ASLE-UKI, whose 2013 essay competition on the theme of literature and sustainability this research won. The event, which was great fun, was chaired by Jane Davidson, Director of INSPIRE. Adeline Johns-Putra, Chair of ASLE-UKI, joined in the panel discussion. Here’s a link to the video. Thanks to IBERS and BBSRC for Excellence with Impact support. Longer version of video with panel discussion.

…read more

Source: http://richardmarggrafturley.weebly.com/1/post/2013/06/shakespeare-at-hay-literature-and-sustainability.html