Text and the City: Essays on Japanese Modernity (Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society)

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9780822333463: Text and the City: Essays on Japanese Modernity (Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society)

Maeda Ai was a prominent literary critic and an influential public intellectual in late-twentieth-century Japan. Text and the City is the first book of his work to appear in English. A literary and cultural critic deeply engaged with European critical thought, Maeda was a brilliant, insightful theorist of modernity for whom the city was the embodiment of modern life. He conducted a far-reaching inquiry into changing conceptions of space, temporality, and visual practices as they gave shape to the city and its inhabitants. James A. Fujii has assembled a selection of Maeda’s essays that question and explore the contours of Japanese modernity and resonate with the concerns of literary and cultural studies today.

Maeda remapped the study of modern Japanese literature and culture in the 1970s and 1980s, helping to generate widespread interest in studying mass culture on the one hand and marginalized sectors of modern Japanese society on the other. These essays reveal the broad range of Maeda’s cultural criticism. Among the topics considered are Tokyo; utopias; prisons; visual media technologies including panoramas and film; the popular culture of the Edo, Meiji, and contemporary periods; maps; women’s magazines; and women writers. Integrally related to these discussions are Maeda’s readings of works of Japanese literature including Matsubara Iwagoro’s In Darkest Tokyo, Nagai Kafu’s The Fox, Higuchi Ichiyo’s Growing Up, Kawabata Yasunari’s The Crimson Gang of Asakusa, and Narushima Ryuhoku’s short story “Useless Man.” Illuminating the infinitely rich phenomena of modernity, these essays are full of innovative, unexpected connections between cultural productions and urban life, between the text and the city.

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From the Back Cover:

"Despite lamentably premature death of Maeda Ai in 1987, his works have left an incontrovertible mark on the study of early modern and modern Japanese literature. Adopting liberally from phenomenological hermeneutics, cultural anthropology, structural semiotics and marxist literary studies, Maeda invented new ways of inquiring into the historicity of 'literature' and articulated the scope of literary studies to other domains in the human and social sciences, thereby leading a number of young scholars of Japan in the United States in the direction of what would be generally recognized as 'cultural studies.' In the fields of trans-Pacific Japanese studies, it is no exaggeration to say that Maeda accomplished something comparable to what Raymond Williams did in the English-speaking world."--Naoki Sakai, Cornell University

About the Author:

Maeda Ai (1931–1987) was a renowned Japanese literary and cultural critic. He taught at Rikkyo University. His many books include the three-volume The Space of Tokyo 1868-1930 (1986), The World of Higuchi Ichiyo (1978), Meiji as Phantasm (1978), and The Creation of the Modern Reader (1973).
James A. Fujii is Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Complicit Fictions: The Subject in the Modern Japanese Prose Narrative.

James A. Fujii is Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Complicit Fictions: The Subject in the Modern Japanese Prose Narrative.

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