Organized Panel Session
This panel provides new perspectives on three of the main literary movements to emerge in Japan during the 1920s and 1930s: popular literature, proletarian literature, and modernist literature. We complicate this conventional schematic framework by highlighting the reciprocal interactions of these categories and by noting the overarching shifts in form and function of print media that accompanied mass-production and large-scale circulation. At the same time, we are cognizant that massification of literature, media, and their consumers was not undifferentiated but territorialized, gendered, and racialized. Attentive not only to relevant media ecologies, but also to contemporaneous political, economic, aesthetic, and intellectual systems, the panel as a whole highlights the dynamic and catalytic nature of the prewar literary environment. Haag maps a tense contact zone bridging imperial literature (gaichi bungaku) and mass literature through readings of the colonial mystery/detective fiction hybridized in Shinseinen magazine. Reichert explores how advocates of historical fiction conceived the genre as something comparable to the new media of film and radio. Shockey investigates the complex and mutually inscribed relationship between leftist political writing and the publishing industry as radical thought and activism became subject to commodification. Shouse harnesses literary theory and hermeneutics of phenomenology to consider the (im)perceptible chiasm of new gendered bodily sensations between popular and intellectual print media during the 1920s. Through rigorous theorization of genre and massification, each paper productively interrogates key binaries, such as form-content, naichi-gaichi, politics-literature, and sensation-intellect, that serve as the foundation for the current interpretive regime of Japanese literary studies.