Organized Panel Session
Literature is by no means impervious to the influence of temporal-spatial changes. In late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Japan, modernizing institutions brought forth new media and literary collectives that fundamentally shifted the production and dissemination of literature. With the creation of the Tokyo-based literary establishment, the so-called bundan, writers experimented with new genres, writing styles, and rhetorical modes, and they engaged in spirited discussion and debate regarding these new developments. However, these debates generally failed to address the fictive nature of literary systems. Our panel, which includes early-career and established scholars, seeks alternative ways to understand the bundan’s role and to reconsider literary paradigms by examining the historical conditions that produced them.
Born reviews the work of Uchimura Kanzō with the aim of demonstrating how his self-narrative styles obscured and fictionalized personal experience to challenge the concept of autobiographical fiction as understood within the bundan. Suzuki examines Kunikida Doppo’s stories about childhood— his shōnen-mono— to highlight how Doppo’s modes of writing confronted literary genres and adopted a more open-ended literary praxis. Bassoe shows how Izumi Kyōka’s work simultaneously adheres to and transcends genre boundaries, which played a vital role in debates on artistic purity and literary conventions. Inouye discusses verisimilitude as an important quality of the modern novel by addressing the imaginary nature of modern consciousness, which makes something fictive plausible. Each presenter will discuss literary works that challenged conventions established by the bundan and its competing coteries, and Marcus will offer insights into the panel’s overall theme as discussant.