Organized Panel Session
Our three papers explore the role of photography as a metaphor for visual memory and embodied experience in modern Japanese fiction, in texts that simulate photographic capture as a method of fossilizing momentary sensations and events. They each deal with literary accounts, with a focus on novels and travelogues, but are fundamentally inter-medial in nature, as they seek to elucidate the effect of photographic technology on the literary imagination in modern Japan. Photography is treated as both a visual art form, with illustrative photos examined alongside texts, and as a form of rhetoric, in stories that explore the concepts of capture, preservation, and visual transmission. Matthew Mewhinney’s paper deals with the earliest text, Masaoka Shiki’s Tabi no tabi no tabi (A Journey within a Journey within a Journey, 1892), a travelogue in which the author laments the fleeting nature of visual experience, especially when compared to photography—an art form whose process of “image capture” he attempts to simulate by embedding haiku in his narrative. Pedro Bassoe follows with a paper that examines Ozaki Kōyō’s description of a natural landscape in Konjiki yasha (The Gold Demon, 1897-1903), which he paired with an actual photograph of the location, thereby producing an overlapping yet disparate impression of the story’s landscape. Atsuko Sakaki explores the effect that a photograph produced by Jeff Wall in response to Mishima Yukio’s Haru no yuki (Spring Snow, 1965-1967) has on the novel’s interpretation, while asking how the photograph illuminates the photographic structure of the text itself.