Organized Panel Session
The uncanny nature of early modernity in East Asia is generally understood as anxiety caused by encounters with new technologies and unfamiliar realities, which disrupted established ways of knowing the world. This panel argues that uncanniness was intrinsic to producing new subject positions on historical realities in early modern East Asia. Past research has highlighted the uncanny potential of new technologies such as photography to disrupt and to challenge entrenched subject positions. However, this panel argues that older types of pictures including narrative and religious painting as well as popular prints also helped produce uncanny moments of looking, blurring the perceived boundary between the viewer and the picture object. These uncanny moments of looking produced diverse meanings; they enabled critical views of social realities and they also contributed to creating a sense of control over historical realities as well as transcending them. Follador shows how visualizing the invisible spread of disease in 1860s Japan helped to symbolically control it in illustrated printed texts. Lin discusses how the male gaze conjured animated visions of women in religious paintings in early modern China, transcending historical realities. Mueller and Eisenstein explore how uncanny moments of looking at narrative paintings and popular prints gave new meanings to the pictorial and literary tropes of warrior ghosts and hinin (non-persons), and consider how this facilitated new critical positions on contemporary historical realities in nineteenth-century Japan.