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Pictures in Comic Elegance: Yosa Buson and Haiga (haiku painting)

Pictures in Comic Elegance: Yosa Buson and Haiga (haiku painting)

Colloquium with Cheryl Crowley, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Emory University.

Monday, January 26, 2009
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Faculty Center
Hacienda Room
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Yosa Buson (1716-1783) was famous both as a poet of haikai (ancestor of modern haiku) and nanga (Chinese "southern style" painting). While his haikai and nanga have been extensively studied, his haiga (haikai painting), which combine verse and visual imagery, are less well known. Haiga match a 17-syllable poem with a simple sketch, using text and image to create a single, integrated whole. Haiga compositions rely on an assumption that verbal and visual expression are essentially equivalent, as they both convey meaning through associations (hibiki) and overtones (yojô) that transcend medium. My paper examines Buson's haiga in the context of the communities of poets, painters, and patrons in which they were created, exploring their central role in the "Bashô Revival Movement" of the l8th century.

Cheryl Crowley (REALC, Ph.D. Columbia 2001) focuses on the confluence of sinophilia and popular culture in early modern Japanese literature, especially haikai poetry, the ancestor of modern haiku. Her recent book (Haikai Poet Yosa Buson and the Bashô Revival, Brill, 2007) explored how Buson was both a pioneer in Japanese popular culture and a leading figure in the community of sinophile literati, who emulated of Chinese scholar-poets. Recently she has given conference papers on the topic of the relationship between haikai and kanshi and visualizations of Chinese landscapes in early modern poetry and painting. She is currently working on a book on women haikai poets in the early modern period.

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