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Lecture | LIAS Lunch Talk Series

Blood, Tears and Samurai Love: A Tragic Tale from Eighteenth-Century Japan

Wednesday 8 March 2023

1.04 (Verbarium)


This talk aims to introduce a joint Leiden-Yale digital research project centred on a unique early eighteenth-century Japanese manuscript acquired by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Books Library in 2017 (working title: Shudō tsuya monogatari). Set in 1714 in northwestern Japan, the anonymous work describes a samurai same-sex love affair and its tragic consequences. As such, it provides a rare example of an early modern ‘true-record-book’ (jitsuroku-bon)  – a book of rumours surrounding actual events and scandals, illicitly circulating in handwritten manuscript form – on the subject of male same-sex love.

Yale University
Shūdō tsuya monogatari, 1714 (19b-20a). General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

About the speaker

Angelika Koch is Assistant Professor in Premodern Japanese History at Leiden University and specializes in the cultural history of early modern Japan, with a particular focus on the genders and sexualities. She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge and is in the process of completing her first book project, which explores sexuality as a health and disease concept in the Edo period (1600-1868). Her publications include a chapter on ‘Sex in Eighteenth-Century Edo’ for the Cambridge World History of Sexualities (2023), ‘Nightless Cities: Timing the Pleasure Quarters in Early Modern Japan’ (KronoScope 17(1), 2017) and ‘Sexual Healing: Regulating Male Sexuality in Edo-period Books on “Nurturing Life”’ (International Journal of Asian Studies 10(2), 2013).

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