CFP for MLA2021: Text and/in/as Image and Vice-Versa

2 replies, 2 voices Last updated by  Edward B. Kamens 1 month, 1 week ago
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    Glynne Walley

    We invite papers exploring relationships between text and image (broadly defined) in premodern Japan.  Scholars from a variety of disciplines welcome.  250-word abstracts to Glynne Walley ( by February 29, 2020.


    Edward B. Kamens

    Dear Glynne (if I may): Thank you for proposing such a capacious topic. I am sure you will receive many fine paper proposals. Having served on the MLA program committee for three years recently, I am aware of how few strong panel proposals that originate in or can accommodate papers from the pre-1900 part of the Japanese literary studies field come to the committee’s attention. I also know that many of those in the field have to make tough choices about which conferences they will attend, but I think it will serve the future health of our field well if we make the effort to be a presence at such broad-based organizations and programs as the MLA. So I really appreciate your effort. Yours Ed Kamens


    Edward B. Kamens

    Hello, Glynne. I would like to submit the attached abstract—on tekagami—for your consideration. I know that Akiko is working on the Oregon album and I look forward to exchanging findings and ideas with her at any and all future opportunities.
    As you may have heard from Naoki Fukumori, I also plan to submit a proposal for a roundtable on a very general topic. It is my understanding that, if I am so fortunate as to be selected to participate in two approved program events, I can participate in up to two. I also hope that you have received a large number of good proposals for your panel: it’s a topic that should attract the attention of many scholars. I would also welcome any comments you might have on my proposed presentation. With best wishes, Ed Kamens

    Title: Is a tekagami a text?

    Recent exhibitions and new scholarly work on tekagami–Japanese calligraphy albums of the 17th and 18th centuries (a.k.a. autograph books)–in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Beinecke Library at Yale University, and the University of Oregon have shed new light on unique materials long of interest to Japanese scholars of pre-modern text variants, book history and material culture, collecting, connoisseurship, and calligraphy itself. Only lately have scholars in both the Japanese and international communities asked questions about these albums as integrated entities. While directing The Tekagamijō Project<;, an international effort to present the entire content of the Yale album in digital format, I have been asking questions about the aesthetics of fragmentation and re-assemblage, or “scattering and gathering,” both in the Japanese and global contexts. The construction and arrangement of a selection of prized samples of handwriting by notable persons of the past in tekagami suggests comparison, of course, to many types of anthology, but also to the ways in which classical Japanese poems are “built” from words and phrases previously used in admired or otherwise well-known works of previous poets and re-arranged in ever multiplying and mutually signifying verses. In this talk, I will explore the question of whether the fragments placed together in a tekagami are more than just an assortment of texts (excerpts from sutras, letters, diaries, poems, narratives and the like). Is a tekagami also a text? If so, how is it to be read?

    Edward Kamens
    Sumitomo Professor of Japanese Studies
    Dept. of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Yale University
    (On leave July 2019 to August 2020)

    From: Glynne Walley <>
    Reply-To: “” <>
    Date: Friday, January 31, 2020 at 4:55 PM
    To: Edward Kamens <>
    Subject: [MLA Commons] CFP for MLA2021: Text and/in/as Image and… (LLC Japanese to 1900)

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