Theorizing Literature from Japan, 1907

Comparative Literature Lecture Series
Sep 16, 2013
12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
102 Kern

Michael Bourdaghs, University of Chicago

In 1907 budding novelist Natsume Soseki published Bungakuron (Theory of Literature), his attempt to produce a fully scientific theory of “literature” that would be valid for all places and all times. Relying on what were then the cutting-edge disciplines of psychology and sociology, he generated a model for understanding literature that bears a remarkable resemblance to recent theories of world literature advanced by such figures as Franco Moretti and Pascale Casanova. This talk will sketch in Soseki’s theory, exploring its overlap with those recent theories but also highlighting aspects in which it differs from them in significant ways.

Michael Bourdaghs is Professor of Modern Japanese Literature and Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. A native of Minnesota, he received his Ph.D. in East Asian Literature from Cornell University in 1996. He is the author of The Dawn That Never Comes: Shimazaki Toson and Japanese Nationalism (2003) and Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop (2012). His translation of Kojin Karatani’s The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange is forthcoming from Duke University Press in early 2014.

This lecture is part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon Series.

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