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CJS Noon Lecture | Rethinking Medieval Narratives Beyond the Canon--On Ordering the Past

Erin Brightwell, Assistant Professor of Pre-modern Japanese Literature, UM
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
12:00-1:30 PM
Off Campus Location
Please note that this lecture will be held on a Wednesday, rather than our usual Thursday time-slot.

The received narrative of Japanese literary and historiographic development is one shaped by anachronistic, European-influenced notions of genre. Drawing on a broad set of medieval works both inside and outside of the canon, however, Erin Brightwell's Reflecting the Past argues that rather than hewing to the fixed, particular binaries of Chinese/Japanese or Tale/Chronicle that came to shape said narrative, medieval thinkers who sought to order the past relied on shared intellectual commitments expressed in ways that move across and between modern linguistic or disciplinary categories: narrative setting and structure, language selection, and cosmological principles. Please join us for a conversation facilitated by Takeshi Watanabe, author of Flowering Tales: Women Exorcising History in Heian Japan (Harvard University Asia Center, 2020), about the strategies used by medieval authors to render unprecedented historical change sensible.

Erin Brightwell is Assistant Professor of Pre-modern Japanese Literature. She holds an MA in Chinese (University of Washington, Seattle) and a PhD in Classical Japanese Literature (Princeton University). In addition to Reflecting the Past: Place Language and Principle in Japan's Medieval Mirror Genre (Harvard University Asia Center, 2020), her latest publications include the translation of Wang Changxiong's 1943 novella "Honryū" (The Torrent) in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (permanent link: and a forthcoming article in Journal of Japanese Studies titled "Making Meaning: Lexical Glosses as Interpretive Interventions in the Kakaishō."

Please register for the Zoom webinar at:

If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this event, please reach out to us at least 2 weeks in advance of this event. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Type: Livestream / Virtual
Tags: Asia, Japanese Studies, Literature
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Japanese Studies, International Institute, Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS), Asian Languages and Cultures