October 21, 2019/ 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Bunche 10383

Distant Listening: Conceptions of Sound and Language in Japanese Sinitic Poetry

with Professor Matthew Fraleigh, Brandeis University


Like their counterparts elsewhere in the Sinosphere, composers of Sinitic poetry in early modern Japan were keenly attentive to prosodic rules, tonality, rhyme and other features conventionally associated with aurality. Yet such aspects of a poem were usually inaudible in the dominant form of oral performance practiced in Japan at the time: interpretive recitation aloud by kundoku. This talk examines how Japanese theorists and practitioners of Sinitic poetry grappled with this central issue. What do their writings tell us about how early modern Japanese poets conceived of the linguistic status of Sinitic texts?


About the Speaker

Matthew Fraleigh is Associate Professor of East Asian Literature and Culture at Brandeis University, where he co-chairs the Program in East Asian Studies. His research concerns the literature of early modern and modern Japan, especially kanshibun (Sinitic poetry and prose). His work has appeared in journals such as Japan Forum, Japanese Studies, Monumenta Nipponica, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Kokugo kokubun, and the London Review of Books. He has published two books focused on the nineteenth century Sinological scholar, poet, and journalist Narushima Ryūhoku: a study entitled Plucking Chrysanthemums: Narushima Ryūhoku and Sinitic Literary Traditions in Modern Japan (Harvard, 2016), and an annotated translation, New Chronicles of Yanagibashi and Diary of a Journey to the West: Narushima Ryūhoku Reports From Home and Abroad (Cornell, 2010). He is currently working on a book project that seeks to understand how early modern and modern Japanese conceptualized the act of composing Sinitic poetry.

Download file: 10.21.19-FRALEIGH-FLYER-c2-tn4.pdf