Organized Panel Session
The modern discipline of Japanese literary study took shape in the 1890s with the compilation of new literary histories, the reconfiguration of the literary canon, and the restructuring of academic departments. Driven by new formulations of “national language” (kokugo) and “national literature” (kokubungaku), this ferment not only produced a new domain of study but also resulted in a pronounced de-emphasis on the Sinitic traditions that had been central to Japanese literary activity for over a millennium. Yet within a decade or two, there emerged comprehensive surveys that sought to reckon with Japan’s Sinitic literary record even in its now much diminished position. In 1907, the Sinologist and lifelong enthusiast of Sinitic poetry Kubo Tenzui (1875–1934) gave a series of lectures at Waseda University on “The History of Sinitic Scholarship in Japan” (Nihon kangakushi) that was subsequently published in two volumes. The following year, one of the founding figures of the discipline of Japanese national literature, Haga Yaichi (1867–1927), began a series of lectures at the Imperial University in Tokyo on “The History of Sinitic Literature in Japan” (Nihon kanbungakushi) that was also later published in book form. This paper examines these two nearly contemporaneous late-Meiji attempts to write the history of Sinitic literature and scholarship in Japan undertaken by men who came from decidedly different disciplinary backgrounds. Both accounts reflect the nationalist mood of their time, but the premises, areas of emphasis, and overall narrative structure reveal important points of fracture.