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Literature as Commons: Re-reading Natsume Sōseki's Kokoro

  • Michael Bourdaghs (University of Chicago)
Thursday 22 September 2022
Leiden Lecture Series in Japanese Studies
Online via Zoom (see below for link)

This lecture will be held via Zoom: click here for the link.


Presenting ideas from his recent book, A Fictional Commons: Natsume Sōseki and the Properties of Modern Literature (Duke University Press, 2021), Michael Bourdaghs will explore the fictional and theoretical writings of Natsume Sōseki (1867-1916), often celebrated as Japan's greatest modern novelist. Focusing in particular on the 1914 novel Kokoro as well as on Sōseki's attempt to formulate a scientific theory of literature that would be valid universally, the talk will examine how Sōseki's writings engage critically and playfully with modern ideas of property, both in terms of the sociology of imperialism and of the psychology of 'possessive individualism' and the ways that affect exceeds our capacity to claim ownership over our own selves.

About Michael Bourdaghs

Michael Bourdaghs is the Robert S. Ingersoll Professor of East Asian Languages & Cultures at the University of Chicago and the author, most recently, of A Fictional Commons: Natsume Sōseki and the Properties of Modern Literature (2020). His previous books include Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop (2012, Japanese translation 2012), and The Dawn That Never Comes: Shimazaki Tōson and Japanese Nationalism (2003). A specialist in modern Japanese literature and popular culture, he is also an active translator, including Karatani Kōjin's The Structure of World History: From Modes of Exchange to Modes of Production (2014). A 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, Bourdaghs has previously taught at UCLA and International Christian University (Tokyo). He is currently writing a book on the Cold War cultures of Japan.

Link to the lecture (Zoom)

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