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Waka and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Aesthetics, Power, and Affect

Haruo Shirane- Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures,Columbia University

Waka (classical Japanese poetry) was not just the most dominant literary form in Japanese history, it had a profound impact on views of nature, seasons, landscape, aesthetics, class consciousness, and ideological constructions over a thousand year span. How did that happen and in what form? This talk examines the ways in which waka, as a privileged genre, made the four seasons an ubiquitous cultural construct and the manner in which those seasonal associations penetrated material culture, ranging from painting to flower arrangement.  In the process, the paper looks at the ideology of the four seasons, the talismanic role of natural imagery, and the affective impact of waka.

Haruo Shirane is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture at Columbia University and the author of the forthcoming Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts (Columbia University Press) and other books

Thursday, March 10, 2011 | 5:00 pm — 6:30 pm
Building 250 - Room 108, Main Quad

Center for East Asian Studies