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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Canon and Identity – Japanese Modernization Reconsidered: Trans-Cultural Perspectives


2000, ISBN 3-938257-14-8, nicht mehr lieferbar / 絶版, Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien, Berlin, Tokyo, 198 p.


Canon and Identity - Japanese Modernization Reconsidered: Trans-Cultural Perspectives

Canon and Identity – Japanese Modernization Reconsidered: Trans-Cultural Perspectives

Modernization in late nineteenth century Japan has long attracted world-wide attention if only to trace what is often termed a model of success – in fact, it is regarded as the only successful modernization of a non-Western nation. Whereas modernization studies until the 1960s stressed Western “influence” and the role of imitation in the process of Japanese modernization, later studies have focused on its indigenous, premodern roots. More recent theories have drawn a more complex picture, focusing on the “invention of tradition” (Hobsbawm) and the creation of new institutions in the course of confronting the Western world.

It is in the light of these new research agendas in the humanities and the social sciences that a reconsideration of the Japanese case promises new insights. Special attention is paid to the foreign or the Other in this process. Whereas the “West” – as occident – appears to be offering the framework for new models of Japanese cultural identity, China, the perennial Other, attains a new role as well.

In the process of creating a nation-state and constructing a national identity, language and literature played an important part. In the same way that the idea of a nation-state produced the concept of a national language, involving a policy of homogenization and the “unification of the written and the spoken language” (genbun itchi), literature, above all, fiction, was redefined and institutionalized in new ways. At the same time literary theory and literary history were set up within the newly founded framework of academic institutions and served to formulate notions of a national religion and the formation of new media and audiences.

It is these areas of intellectual life and culture which formed the focus of attention of an international conference organized by the editor in cooperation with the Japanese-German Center Berlin as part of a research project of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences titled “Challenges of the Other” in October 1995, co-sponsored by the European Science Foundation’s Asia Committee. The majority of the papers presented on this occasion are collected in this volume to document a discussion which meanwhile may well be said to have gained momentum.


Hijiya-Kirschnereit, Irmela
pp. 7-24

Brownstein, Michael C.
The Study of Japanese Literature in Mid-Meiji
pp. 25-35

Schamoni, Wolfgang
The Rise of "Literature" in Early Meiji: Lucky Genres and Unlucky Ones
pp. 37-60

Kamei Hideo
Western Elements in the Formation of Modern Japanese Literature: The Problem of the Protagonist and Structure
pp. 61-75

Walker, Janet
Visiting Flower Meisho (Famous Places) and the Negotiation of Cultural Identity in Texts by Futabatei Shimei and Nagai Kafū
pp. 77-105

Tanaka Katsuhiko
The Discovery of a National Language (kokugo) in Meiji Japan
pp. 107-116

Sakai Naoki
LIterary Nation: Translation and the Figure of National Culture
pp. 117-144

Narita Ryūichi
The World of Shōnen Sekai
pp. 145-166

Yasumaru Yoshio
National Religion, the Imperial Institution, and Invented Tradition – The Western Stimulus
pp. 167-181

Harootunian, Harry D.
Enduring Custom: Memory, Repetition and Aura and the Claims of Native Knowledge
pp. 183-198