Organized Panel Session
We tend to think of literature as words written on a page and performance as something carried out by a body in space and time, but in medieval and early modern Japan, writing, textual transmission, and performative events were intertwined in ways that defy easy distinction. The cocreation of written and oral texts, the ritualization of literary production, and the circulation of forms between the theater and the book remained vital to cultural production, even following the rise of print and the commercialization of the arts after 1600. How might our understanding of the stage and the page be disrupted, expanded, or transformed by resisting the urge to separate the literary and the performative—and by crossing the lines of periodization that consign medievalists and early modernists to different fields? How does attention to the performative body complicate our understanding of textuality, and vice-versa? How might we theorize the differences between the affective experiences of reading, witnessing, and participating—or should we? Our papers address the textual construction of kickball in the medieval period, the early modern stage afterlives of warriors from medieval epics, and the capacity of the puppet theater to ritually alter history. In a creative format, two discussants whose work has focused on the intersection of literature and performance in the medieval and early modern periods, respectively, will comment upon all three papers. Together, we hope to foster a conversation that will point to new conceptualizations of textuality and performance in old Japan—and possibly beyond them.