12/3 Toby Wu

Master of Arts Program in the Humanities

Reconstituting the Japanese Housewife: Idemitsu Mako’s Charged Televisual Fields in Kiyoko’s Situation (1989)

 Arts and Politics of East Asia (APEA) & Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia (VMPEA)

★ Co-Sponsored Workshop ★

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Idemitsu Mako, Kiyoko’s Situation, 1989, video, color, sound, 24:40 min, (still of) 17:10.


Subverting the housewife melodrama form, Idemitsu Mako’s shufu (housewife) series (1972-1989) deftly manifests the radical potential of a domestic television set to reconfigure the shufu’s subconscious. Placidly observing the austere environment of the household, Idemitsu’s televisual videos frame her shufu protagonists and the television set within the seemingly un-intruded domestic space, allowing for their repressed subconscious to emerge through the television’s charged field.

This paper provides a centripetal tracking (Joselit, After Art) of Kiyoko’s Situation (1989), Idemitsu’s penultimate televisual video work, in which Kiyoko (the protagonist) is compelled by the television set to confront the trauma of being a shufu. Through the unravelling of her past and psyche (exemplified in the television set and Kiyoko concurrently), we witness how the television set reconstitutes Kiyoko’s subjecthood, no longer just a conduit for mediation or transmission.

This paper considers the viability of extant Euro-American video art narratives to account for and explicate Idemitsu’s practice, consulting Thomas Lamarre’s notion of the technosocial charged field to expand upon the work’s medium and socio-political context. Specifically, the paper suggests why it is crucial to consider both media and cultural specificity in Idemitsu’s form of media art, reconciling how a media ecology might consider the discrete objecthood of domestic television sets. The paper proposes that Idemitsu’s televisual videos formulate a media art practice that envisages the media effects of television, while concurrently activating her feminist ideology.

Presenter: Toby Wu (he/him/his) is a Master’s candidate at the University of Chicago reading Art History and Media Studies. He is interested in the emergence of time based media practices in the Global Contemporary, specifically through Transpacific exchanges between Japan, Southeast Asia, and the United States of America. His Master’s thesis examined Idemitsu Mako’s techno-social reconstitution of the Japanese housewife’s subjecthood through the media effects of television. Toby is an inaugural (2021) Asia Art Archive in America & PoNJA GenKon fellow and the Graduate Curatorial Intern for Transpacific Art Histories at The Smart Museum. He has previously worked with KADIST Art Foundation (San Francisco), National Gallery Singapore and Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (Manila).

Respondent: Thomas Lamarre is a scholar of media, cinema and animation, intellectual history and material culture, with projects ranging from the communication networks of 9th century Japan (Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription, 2000), to silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen: Tanizaki Jun’ichirō on Cinema and Oriental Aesthetics, 2005), animation technologies (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, 2009) and on television infrastructures and media ecology (The Anime Ecology: A Genealogy of Television, Animation, and Game Media, 2018). Current projects include research on animation that addresses the use of animals in the formation of media networks associated with colonialism and extraterritorial empire, and the consequent politics of animism and speciesism.

His work as a translator includes major works from Japanese and French: Kawamata Chiaki’s novel Death Sentences (University of Minnesota, 2012); Muriel Combes’s Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual (MIT, 2012); and David Lapoujade’s William James: Pragmatism and Empiricsm (Duke University Press, 2019).

He has also edited volumes on cinema and animation, on the impact of modernity in East Asia, on pre-emptive war, and formerly, as Associate Editor of Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and the Fan Arts, a number of volumes on manga, anime, and fan cultures. He is co-editor with Takayuki Tatsumi of a book series with the University of Minnesota Press entitled “Parallel Futures,” which centers on Japanese speculative fiction. Current editorial work includes a co-edited volume on Chinese animation with Daisy Yan Du and a co-edited volume on Digital Animalities with Jody Berland.

He previously taught in East Asian Studies and Communications Studies at McGill University. As James McGill Professor Emeritus of Japanese Media Studies at McGill University, he continues to work with the Moving Image Research Laboratory, funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and partnered by local research initiatives such as Immediations, Hexagram, and Artemis.

11/19 Alexander Murphy

Ph.D. Candidate, East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Voices of a Different Shade

3 pm-5pm CST, November 19, 2021

“Nidome no Amerika miyage / Kawahata Fumiko-san wo tazunete,” Eiga no Tomo, July 1938.
「二度目のアメリカ土産/川畑文子さんを訪ねて」、映画之友 [7月1938年]

Registration Link: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcvcu6orDoiG9HSKjcaYjDWcpQ8PBWxbSfq

This chapter draft elaborates upon Alex’s dissertation’s broader exploration of Japan’s interwar “voice industry” of radio and commercial recording through a focus on Fumiko “Alice” Kawahata, a Hawai’i-born Japanese American jazz performer who found success in Japan in the mid-1930s as the so-called “amber-colored Josephine Baker” (kohaku iro no Josefin Bēkā). Taking this oft-cited appellation as a point of departure, this chapter asks what the mercurial transits of Kawahata’s vocal persona might reveal about the aural contours of race and diasporic difference at the height of Japan’s late-imperial jazz age.

Presenter: Alexander Murphy is a PhD candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. His research interests center on transnational literature, performance, and media history in twentieth-century Japan, with a particular focus on the aesthetics and politics of the voice during the interwar period.

Respondent: Eilin Rafael Pérez is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Chicago. He specializes in histories of cultural production which emerged out of diplomatic engagement between Korea and the decolonizing world.

Please contact Siting Jiang (sitingjiang@uchicago.edu) and Nick Ogonek (nogonek@uchicago.edu) with any questions or concerns.
Nick and Siting, Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop, 2021-2


10/22 Paride Stortini

Ph.D. Candidate, History of Religions

Exploring and Imagining Ajanta: The First Ōtani Expedition to India and its Literary Translations by Shimazaki Tōson and Miyazawa Kenji

October 22, 2021

**PLEASE NOTE the special time: 4pm-6pm CST**

Morning at the Cave Temple (Kutsuin no asa 窟院の朝, 1920), by Nousu Kōsetsu 野生司香雪(1885–1973)

Registration Link: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAodOCuqjMvHtJvD2JrVz5yq-c19WVkBI3W

This paper analyzes Japanese travel accounts to the Buddhist caves of Ajanta, central India, and their literary reimaginations in the early twentieth century. The wall paintings of Ajanta, rediscovered in the nineteenth century, were at the center of art historical and aesthetic interests of European scholars and of the rising modernist art movements in South Asia. The possibility of learning about early Buddhism and life in ancient India offered by the scenes on the walls also attracted Japanese Buddhist priests and intellectuals, who often travelled together and collaborated with European and South Asian intellectuals and artists. In this chapter, I am particularly focusing on the travel account to the Ajanta caves of Fujii Senshō, a Buddhist priest-scholar who led the Indian section of the first Ōtani expedition (a set of explorative missions to the Buddhist sites of India and Central Asia promoted by the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Honganji). While showing the scientific and secular attitude of the priest toward the caves, I also point out the sensorial impact of the landscape on his observations. I then trace a similar impact on the literary reimagination of this exploration in a short story by novelist Shimazaki Tōson, also noting his use of references to Buddhist sources. The aim of this paper, which is a section of chapter 3 of my dissertation, is to question the analysis of a “secularizing gaze” of art history and aesthetics on Buddhist art, showing instead how aesthetic discourse on Ajanta is more imbued of religious discourse than the travel accounts of Buddhist priests. In addition, the analysis of the literary reimaginations offers a venue to expand the gaze of the modern Japanese explorer from the wall paintings to the natural setting of the caves, also deepening an aesthetic/affect approach to Ajanta. The postcolonial reading of the travel accounts and literary reimaginations also open the chance for further exploration of cosmopolitan or pan-Asian views on Japan-South Asian networks.


Presenter: Paride Stortini is a PhD candidate in history of religions at the Divinity School, University of Chicago, specializing in the intellectual and cultural history of modern Japanese Buddhism in transnational perspective. His dissertation focuses on the exploration of ancient and modern India by Japanese Buddhist priests and intellectuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as a venue to analyze discourses on secular and scientific approaches to religion, as well as the construction of cosmopolitan and nationalist identities. He has a second research project on the concept and imagery of Silk Road in post-WWII Japan as an intersection of discourses on Buddhist pacifism and practices of cultural heritage preservation of the Buddhist sites across Asia.

Respondent: Philomena Mazza-Hilway is a Teaching Fellow in the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities. Focusing on modern Japanese literature, her work engages issues of gender, non-human selfhood, genre fiction & minor literatures, and readership. Her current book project, based on her dissertation, examines modern subjectivity in the works of three early twentieth century women writers, arguing that these writers employed strategies of the ‘feminine grotesque’–at once generative and abject– within the written negotiations of their emergent subjecthood. Her second project traces the evolution of othered literary subjects in women’s postwar literature, utilizing their work to interrogate the nature and notion of a coherent, agential subject in modern Japanese literature. 

Please contact Siting Jiang (sitingjiang@uchicago.edu) and Nick Ogonek (nogonek@uchicago.edu) with any questions or concerns.
Nick and Siting, Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop, 2021-2


6/4 Yueling Ji

Ph.D. Candidate, EALC

The Stylistic Complaint: Rereading Modern Chinese Literature in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan

Time: Friday, June 4, 6-8 pm CT

Zoom Registration: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIsdu6sqzMtH9yxqmjZNyRaHJDbnkueK6AR

The Art and Politics of East Asia (APEA) workshop is proud to host Yueling Ji (Ph.D. Candidate, EALC), who will be presenting her dissertation chapter “The Stylistic Complaint: Rereading Modern Chinese Literature in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.” Elvin Meng (Ph.D. Student, Comparative Literature) will offer a response. Yueling summarizes her chapter as follows:

Each chapter of my dissertation studies a case in the history of 20th-century Chinese literary criticism where “style” became an important object of literary analysis. In this chapter, the main figures are linguists, translators, and literary critics based in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, a linguistic method to analyze the writing style of modern Chinese literature was developed and applied to canonical literary works. The critics argued that those works contain grammatical errors, misuse figures of speech, and damage the integrity of the national language. In this way, stylistics became a tool to decenter the canon and challenge the cultural authority behind it. Additionally, this chapter will introduce, as a practical skill, how to use the linguistic method to analyze writing style. 

Yueling Ji is interested in problems of language, style, and form in literature. She argues that the formal analysis of written texts has a social function for a community of readers. Her dissertation, “Style and Modern Chinese Literary Criticism,” studies how 20th-century Chinese critics used stylistics to debate ideological beliefs. She has also written about Sino-Soviet relations, Marxism, and feminist/queer theories.

**PLEASE NOTE that the workshop is from 6 to 8pm CT**
Please contact Jiayi Zhu (jiayizhu@uchicago.edu) and Sophia Walker (scwalker2@uchicago.edu) if you have any questions or concerns.
Sophia and Jiayi, Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop

5/21 David Wilson

Ph.D. Candidate, Ethnomusicology
Coming in from the Cold: Complicating Global Cold War Narratives through Chinese Revolutionary Ballet

Time: Friday, May 21, 5-7 pm CT

Zoom Registration: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYrde6vpj8pHdz_2XP04Ixbj72nA7Qgn2HS

The Art and Politics of East Asia (APEA) workshop is proud to host David Wilson (Ph.D. Candidate, Ethnomusicology), who will be presenting his paper “Coming in from the Cold: Complicating Global Cold War Narratives through Chinese Revolutionary Ballet.” Lilian Kong (Ph.D. Student, EALC) will offer a response. David summarizes his paper as follows:

Although The White-Haired Girl has a long development and performance history, the ballet version of the story is particularly associated with China’s Cultural Revolution. In this paper, rather than looking at the ballet from the perspective of the Cultural Revolution, or even socialist-era China more broadly, I consider The White-Haired Girl both as a site of transnational circulation and exchange, and as part of a global network of Cold War cultural exchange. Drawing primarily on published personal accounts and press coverage, I trace the ballet’s connections with both Japan and Canada. In doing so, I propose that The White-Haired Girl allows us to read the ways in which the legacies of post-War artistic exchange and circulation allow us to disturb the classic Three Worlds model of the Cold War, and to understand the uneven global experience of Cold War politics.
David Wilson is a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology. His dissertation focuses on the ways in which transnational circulations of music and media affect music’s potential as a site for political discourse in modern China and Taiwan. He has written and presented on diverse topics such as the construction of gender in Chinese model operas, performance practice in Gustav Mahler’s orchestral songs, and the racial imaginary constructed by the musical playlist for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and inauguration.
**PLEASE NOTE that the workshop is from 5 to 7pm CT**
Please contact Jiayi Zhu (jiayizhu@uchicago.edu) and Sophia Walker (scwalker2@uchicago.edu) if you have any questions or concerns.
Sophia and Jiayi, Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop