3550 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089

A symposium featuring Matthew Fraleigh (Brandeis University), Satoko Shimazaki (UCLA), and Glynne Walley, (University of Oregon).


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"Subjects About Which the Master did not Talk: Late Edo Translation of Japanese Ghost Stories into Sinitic”
Matthew Fraleigh
, Brandeis University 

A well-known line in the Confucian Analects identifies “extraordinary things” and “spiritual beings” as two of the “subjects about which the Master did not talk” (7.21). Yet in spite of the stated avoidance, the supernatural was a topic of immense interest for many Confucian scholars in the early modern period. Less than two decades after Qing literatus Yuan Mei’s well-known collection Zibuyu (What the Master did not talk about out) was published in China, the Japanese Confucian scholar Koga Tōan (1788–1847) began writing Kinseikai (1810–16), a compilation of Japanese ghost stories that he had solicited from his associates and then translated into literary Sinitic. This talk examines the interest of Tōan, then in training to take over for his father as an instructor at the Shōheikō official academy, and his scholarly contemporaries in collecting strange tales and translating them into Sinitic.



"Spatial Translations of Edo: Nineteenth Century Kabuki and the Sumida River"
Satoko Shimazaki, UCLA


In the latter half of the Tokugawa period, Edo playwrights used the areas around Sumida River in their plays to transport sensational domestic plays originally from the Kyoto Osaka area to Edo, reinventing the city as a space imbued with darkness and desire. Sumida River, which flowed along the eastern border of Edo, came to be imbued with distinct narrative potential and a unique aesthetic in both theater and fiction. In this talk, I will think of “translation” as a spatial act that connects one cultural topos to another, engendering a rich, polyphonous view of nineteenth-century Edo and twentieth-century Tokyo. In particular, I will focus on nighttime representations of Sumida River in kabuki plays by Tsuruya Nanboku in the 1810s that utilize Sumida River to bring older narratives into the contemporary urban context of Edo, and their translation into a new context in late Meiji and early Taishō prose fiction. Eventually, I hope to propose a way of focusing on Sumida River that allows us to reconsider the importance of waterways in fictional representations of Edo.



"His Blade Bore Well Its Name, or: (S)wordplay and Translating Eight Dogs" 
Glynne Walley, University of Oregon

This talk will build on the recent publication of the second installment in my projected complete translation of the mammoth 19th century Japanese novel Eight Dogs, or Nansō Satomi hakkenden, by Kyokutei Bakin.  I will analyze the significance and narrative function of swords in this medieval samurai epic, touching on themes of legitimacy, loss, masculinity, and desire.  I will then consider the translation problems presented by the novel’s most prominent swords.  If translation is always an interpretation, then the translator must ultimately decide what a sword means. 





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