School of Languages and CulturesAssociation for Japanese Literary StudiesCollege of Liberal Arts

Newsletter 9

Eighth Annual Meeting


November 12-14, 1999 Boulder, Colorado

Call for Papers

The eighth annual conference of the Midwest Association for Japanese Literary Studies (MAJLS) will be held in Boulder, Colorado, November 12-14, 1999.The theme of this year's conference is ISSUE OF CANONICITY AND CANON FORMATION IN JAPANESE LITERARY STUDIES. The invited speakers who have agreed to attend are Kubota Jun (Professor Emeritus of University of Tokyo; specialist in medieval period waka and the author of Chuµsei wakashi no kenkyuµ), Takahashi Mutsuo (novelist, poet, essayist; author of the recently published Yominaoshi Nihon bungakushi), and Suzuki Sadami (Professor at the Nichibunken; author of the recently published Nihon no 'bungaku' gainen).

The topic of this year's conference seeks to focus on issues of canon formation within and throughout the Japanese literary tradition, but papers focusing on how that literary tradition was treated in other countries will also be considered acceptable topics. Panels on these same topics will also be considered.

Recent academic debates about the canon have revolved around opening its boundaries to under-represented groups. What has evolved in the course of these debates is a battle between the "canonical" versus the "non-canonical." As John Guillory, and others, have shown, exposing the historical mechanisms behind canon formation is a much larger project than just creating an alternative. In the end, any new "non-canonical" canon is fraught with the same dangers of canonization and exclusivity as that to which it was originally opposed. In the American academy today, canonization is not just a topic for scholarly inquiry but also a question of pedagogical and political practice.

The canon debate has only recently become a topic of debate for scholars of Japanese literature. There are a number of reasons for this which we hope will be explored at the conference, but of primary importance now is the timeliness of the issues and how these concerns are presenting themselves in current research in the field. Possible paper topics could explore the literature/ literary forms of the Japanese archipelago in any historical period as well as the theoretical discourses surrounding what it means to define written or oral texts as "literature" during or after those same periods.

Deadline for Paper/Panel Proposals: May 31, 1999

A one-to-two page proposal, together with the form in this newsletter, should be sent to:

Stephen Miller, Conference Chair
San Flore #402, Nakano 3-28-22, Nakano-ku, Tokyo, Japan 164-0001.
Tel/FAX: 03.5340.6697

[Note: by e-mail, include your proposal in the body of an e-mail message, and not as attachments.]

1998 Meeting Report

The Seventh Annual MAJLS Meeting, "Love and Sexuality in Japanese Literature," was successfully held November 6-8, 1998, at Purdue University. With a record number of panel participants (35 speakers), the conference examined the issue from a variety of perspectives and approaches. Professor Inaga Shigemi presented his thought-provoking keynote address, in which he discussed the impact of a 1996 best-seller book, AV Actresses, on the reading of sexuality among intellectual communities. Another exciting keynote speech by Professor Saeki Junko examined the issue of love and sexuality in Meiji literature as a conflicting transition of values from tradition to western-inspired modernity. This year again, we had quite a few international participants, including one from Estonia, three from Australia, and three from Japan. The Conference Chair, Eiji Sekine, would like to thank all of the participants, Purdue faculty members and students, as well as his family, for making this year's conference another meaningful gathering.

MAJLS Activities

Annual Meeting

An annual meeting is organized by an elected Conference Chair and held at the Chair's institution. A call for papers is announced in the Spring issue of the MAJLS Newsletter. A program of the meeting is published in the Fall issue of the Newsletter.

PMAJLS Publication

All papers presented during the annual meeting can be included in an officially registered serial titled PMAJLS (Proceedings of the Midwest Association for Japanese Literary Studies). "Love and Sexuality in Japanese Literature," PMAJLS, vol. 5, is scheduled to be published in September, 1999.


The annual fee is $25.00 for regular, student, and institution members ($35.00 for overseas members outside North America). Membership for 1999-2000 provides you with:

  • panel participation for the 1999 meeting to be held at Boulder, Colorado (if your proposal is selected).
  • two newsletters--the Fall 1999 issue and Spring 2000 issue.
  • a copy of the proceedings of the '98 Meeting to be published in Fall, 1999.
  • one free copy of a back or additional current issue of the proceedings if you are a student member.

Our publication activities almost totally depend on your membership support. If you have not yet joined us, please do so this time. Those who joined and received a copy of the "New Historicism" proceedings, please renew your membership now. Inquiries and orders (with checks payable to MAJLS) should be addressed to: MAJLS, Purdue University, 1359 Stanley Coulter Hall, W. Lafayette, IN 47907-1359, USA.

Hosts through the Year 2002

We have host institutions in line through the year 2002: University of Notre Dame for 2000 (Professor Eileen Mikals-Adachi, Chair), Columbia University for 2001 (Professor Haruo Shirane, Chair), and Washington University-St. Louis for 2002 (Professors Marvin Marcus and Rebecca Copeland, Co-Chairs). If you are interested in hosting the MAJLS meeting for 2003 or later, please contact the MAJLS office. Information on the organization of the past meetings is available.

AAS Affiliate

The MAJLS has been approved by the AAS as an Affiliate. We will annually hold a business meeting during the AAS Meeting.

New Proceedings Published

A long-waited proceedings of the 1997 Michigan meeting has been just published."The New Historicism and Japanese Literary Studies," PMAJLS, vol. 4 (Eiji Sekine, ed., xvi + 450 pp), includes keynote addresses by Karatani Koµjin and Komori Yoµichi, and 23 more essays, with an introduction by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen.

Back Issues

Back issues of the proceedings, including the PMAJLS, vol. 4, are available. Each copy is $10.00 for MAJLS members and $15.00 for non-members. Orders should be sent to the MAJLS office.

  • Poetics of Japanese Literature

    Roger Thomas, ed.: vi + 207pp, 1993. Includes keynote addresses by Kawamoto Koµji and Watanabe Kenji, and nine more essays, plus the round table discussion report.
  • The Desire for Monogatari [out of stock]
  • Japanese Theatricality and Performance

    PMAJLS, vol. 1, Eiji Sekine, ed.: v + 218 pp, 1995 Includes a keynote address by Donald Richie and eleven other essays, plus a report on the round table discussion.
  • Revisionism in Japanese Literary Studies

    PMAJLS, vol. 2, Eiji Sekine, ed.: vi + 336pp, 1996. Includes a keynote address by Earl Miner, major address by Takahashi Toµru and ten other essays, plus commentaries by panel discussants.
  • Ga/Zoku Dynamics in Japanese Literature

    PMAJLS, vol. 3, Eiji Sekine, ed.: vii + 458pp, 1997. Includes a keynote address by Ueno Chizuko, major addresses by Watanabe Kenji, Ibi Takashi, and Kigoshi Osamu, and nineteen other essays.

MAJLS Newsletter Sponsor: SLC , Purdue University

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Please attach a 1-2 page proposal to this form and send to Stephen Miller, San Flore #402, Nakano 3-28-22, Nakano-ku, Tokyo, Japan 164-0001.

1359 Stanley Coulter Hall
Purdue University
W. Lafayette, IN 47907

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