Organized Panel Session
This panel focuses on the question of the human body in Early Modern Japanese literature. Recent researches on the intersection between literature and medicine have foregrounded the human body as a locus of both knowledge production and a thing to be investigated. By understanding how the body are deployed in literary works ranging from travel journals to esoteric Buddhist manuscripts, this panel attempts to show how focusing on the body as a conceptual lens would allow for a deeper and more material understanding of Edo period writing.
Katsumata’s presentation first draws our attention to the importance of bodily experiences in the genre of travel journals. By analyzing Tachibana Nankei’s “Tōzai Yūki”, he argues that the dimension of physicality in the work represented a new approach to empiricism. Marui’s paper then analyzes a tale in Ueda Akinari’s classic Tales of Moonlight and Rain through the lens of Sinitic medicine. By attempting to situate the work in the medical discourse of “out of body experiences,” he provides a new approach to reading yomihon. Macomber’s paper focuses on medieval esoteric Buddhist manuscripts of moxibustion and acupuncture that continued to circulate during the Edo period. By exploring the enduring impacts of ideas found in these texts, he shows how they were negotiated and translated into new visual bodily forms. Lee’s paper then traces the rise of eating disorders in the Edo period. By reading medical texts alongside popular literary works, he delineates the boundaries in which eating disorders were understood in the Edo period.