Queer Subjects in Modern Japanese Literature: A Reminiscence
- Stephen Miller (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
- Monday 13 March 2023
- Leiden Lecture Series in Japanese Studies
- On campus (Lipsius 1.23) and online via Zoom
This lecture will also be held via Zoom: click here for the link.
This talk will focus on two projects to anthologize queer men’s Japanese literature. As the anthologizer, I will not theorize about how these two anthologies make their meaning(s). Instead, I will reminisce on the processes of construction and formation of each anthology to provide some historical background as to what made each possible in the eras in which they were created. From very early times, the Japanese were enthusiastic, comprehensive, and skillful anthologizers—they built expressive anthologies to suggest relationships between the separate (usually shorter) elements. Anthologies form the backbone of classical Japanese literature today, but they also represent only a small percentage of the flood of literature produced during the period each anthology represents. All anthologies are like that: they are core samples influenced by the anthologizer’s subjective worldview. And this is how I view my two anthologies: core samples of queer men’s lives from the Heian period to 2014, the year of the last contribution in Queer Subjects of Modern Japanese Literature: Male Love, Intimacy, and Erotics, 1886-2014. I will focus on three aspects: the societal context of my first anthology (Partings at Dawn: An Anthology of Japanese Gay Literature, Gay Sunshine Press, 1996); the significance of the word “queer” in Queer Subjects; and Edo-period nanshoku in modern Japanese literature.
About Stephen Miller
Stephen D. Miller is associate professor of Japanese language and literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is editor of and contributor to, most recently, Queer Subjects in Modern Japanese Literature: Male Love, Intimacy, and Erotics, 1886-2014 (University of Michigan Press, 2022). He is also author of The Wind from Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013). He is translator of A Pilgrim’s Guide to Forty-Six Temples (Weatherhill Inc., 1990), and editor of Partings at Dawn: An Anthology of Japanese Gay Literature (Gay Sunshine Press, 1996). Miller lived in Japan for nine years between 1980 and 1999, in part as the recipient of two Japan Foundation fellowships for research abroad. With poet Patrick Donnelly, Miller is co-translator of the classical Japanese Buddhist poems in The Wind from Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013), which were awarded the 2015-2016 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, from the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University. Miller and Donnelly’s translations have appeared in numerous journals, and their translation of the 16th century Japanese Nō play Shunzei Tadanori appeared in Like Clouds or Mists: Studies and Translations of Nō Plays of the Genpei War (Cornell East Asia Series, 2014).