Organized Panel Session
Premodern Japanese literature and culture cannot be fully understood without considering their interaction with Chinese civilization. This Sino-Japanese relationship, however, has not attained a level of scholarly attention commensurate with its significance. This panel offers diverse perspectives on this pivotal yet understudied field, exploring the symbiosis, competition, and interplay between “China” and “Japan” as these geographic and cultural entities were conceived in the Japanese literary and popular imagination.
First, Persiani presents a hierarchical, competitive Sino-Japanese relationship in the 9th and 10th centuries, showing the ambivalent attitude of Confucian literati toward vernacular Japanese poetry as its status at court grew. Fleming then turns to the early modern period, when interest in Chinese studies spread to the commoner class. He analyzes the processes for the importation and distribution of Chinese books in Japan. Nagase discusses a specific case of cross-cultural and cross-gender adaptation through which the swashbuckling, male world of the Chinese fiction The Water Margin was transformed into a realm of gallant Japanese women. Finally, Xie’s talk highlights the often mediated nature of Japanese reception of Chinese texts, focusing on Sodō’s writings in literary Chinese as a bridge between Chinese studies and the poet Bashō.
Covering diverse time periods, genres, and authors (and consumers) from varied social and cultural backgrounds, this panel embodies the multiplicity and complexity of the Sino-Japanese relationship in premodern Japanese literary history. By foregrounding the dynamic, interactive nature of this relationship, we hope to stimulate broader discussions on cross-cultural engagement and reception of foreign literature and culture.