3/5 Alex Murphy

Ph.D. Candidate, EALC

Enchantment of Politics, Poetics of Enchantment

Terui Eizō, “Shi rōdoku: Osayo,” 1935 (Record leaflet, Columbia 33287)

Time: Friday, March, 3-5 pm CT

Zoom Registration: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0lduCtrj4oGNCA5_qiFdBFa2CJ8ALDwof- 

Discussant: Anthony Stott, Ph.D. Student, EALC/Comparative Literature 


The Art and Politics of East Asia (APEA) workshop is proud to host Alex Murphy (Ph.D. Candidate, EALC), who will present his dissertation chapter, “Enchantment of Politics, Poetics of Enchantment.” He summarizes his chapter as follows:

This chapter concerns the advent of radio poetry in interwar Japan, and its role in the aural poeisis of public life at the outset of the Shōwa period. Following the 1923 Kantō earthquake, a prominent consortium of poets turned to oral recitation in order to channel the turbulent rhythms and sonorities of social life that seemed so far to elude expression in print, and to the emergent technology of radio broadcast as a means of harmonizing these disparate intensities toward a communal sense of “public resonance.” In so doing, however, the poets of this growing recitation movement had also to reckon with the politics involved in shaping the radio’s emergent listening public, especially as the escalation of acclamatory social movements signaled a more polyphonous body politic than the state was willing to accommodate. What the movement’s advocates proposed, then, was a mode of recitation that might, through various formal refinements, convey the impression of an informal, unadorned poetic voice—one shorn of embellishment, polished down to its most genuine and universal essence. By the same token, however, I argue that this mode of recitation served thereby to naturalize, or enchant a narrower political vision of post-quake public life by staging the state’s attenuations of audible speech—the filtration of dissent, opacity, or innuendo—as steps toward a radiogenic ideal of clarity, neutrality, and noiseless transmission.


Alex Murphy is a PhD candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, focusing on modern Japanese literature and cultural history. His dissertation, entitled “What the Ear Sees,” deals with performance, sound media, and the politics of the voice in interwar Japan.


Please contact Jiayi Zhu (jiayizhu@uchicago.edu) and Sophia Walker (scwalker2@uchicago.edu) if you have any questions or concerns.
Jiayi and Sophia, Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *