27th Annual Meeting of the Association of Japanese
Evidence, Transmission, and Inheritance in Japanese Literature and Media
September 6-8, 2018
University of California, Berkeley
In Conjunction with the Kotenseki Seminar, Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the
C. V. Starr East Asian Library &
Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies
Utagawa, Kuniyoshi, Artist. Miyamoto Musashi. [Between 1847 and 1850] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.
The 2018 AJLS Conference seeks to address the history and theory of Japanese literature and media with special attention given to the ways in which writers have grappled with the problems of evidence, transmission, and inheritance and how these problems continue to renew and complicate the relation between the past, present, and future.
From questions surrounding lines of hermeneutic authority in secret transmission and early textual scholarship, to the emergence of new modes of inquiry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries based on models from late imperial China and early modern Europe, to the anxieties surrounding fears over the loss of cultural authority at various moments of rupture (both political and seismic) across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Japanese literature has been centrally preoccupied with the past and the future—how it can be known and transmitted—as well as with anxieties over forgery, inauthenticity, and cultural loss. Questions to be addressed include the following:
• What are the different types of evidence? When does evidence need persuasion? When does it become a symptom?
• How might evidence encode reading practices? How do reading practices create evidence?
• What constitutes evidence in Buddhist texts? What is the relationship between evidence and Buddhist doctrinal truth? What is scriptural evidence?
• How do texts function as historical evidence? How do they foreshadow the future? How might evidence endure across generations and speak to the future?