Home / Narrative, Performance, and “Premodern” Forms: Ishimure Michiko’s Contemporary Noh Play Okinomiya and its Costuming by Shimura Fukumi


Narrative, Performance, and “Premodern” Forms: Ishimure Michiko’s
Contemporary Noh Play Okinomiya and its Costuming by Shimura Fukumi

Christina Laffin, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
IMAP/IDOC Distinguished Lecture Series
16:30, October 15 (Monday) 2018. East Zone 1 号館 room E-C203

In February 2018 the writer and activist Ishimure Michiko 石牟礼道子 died at the age of ninety, leaving a literary legacy of poems, novels, plays, and interviews. Ishimure is often represented as a founder of Japan’s environmental movement, thanks to her efforts to represent those affected by Minamata Disease through grassroots organization, direct action, and her many literary works. Among Ishimure’s writings are two noh plays: Shiranui 不知火, which was staged in 2002, and Okinomiya 沖宮, which will be performed in three locations in October 2018 (https://www.okinomiya.jp/). The October production will use original costumes naturally hand dyed and woven by the ninety-three year old artist and Living National Treasure Shimura Fukumi 志村ふくみ, a correspondent and friend to Ishimure.
My presentation will examine Ishimure’s contemporary noh play Okinomiya and its production from the perspective of translator and tangential contributor. Through an examination of current ecocritical approaches to Ishimure’s oeuvre, I will show how scholars and interlocutors have approached her complex use of narrative, voice, and dialect by sometimes reducing it to an interaction with classical, traditional, or premodern forms. What does this tell us about our understanding of the “premodern” and why is a noh play about war, natural disaster, and human sacrifice being painstakingly produced in 2018?
Christina Laffin is an associate professor and the Canada Research Chair in Premodern Japanese Literature and Culture at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Her research interests include medieval travel diaries, women’s education and socialization before 1600, and poetic practices and waka culture. Laffin’s publications include a monograph on the medieval poet Nun Abutsu (Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women: Politics, Personality, and Literary Production in the Life of Nun Abutsu, Hawai‘i University Press, 2013), a co-edited collection of essays and translations on noh drama (The Noh Ominameshi: A Flower Viewed from Many Directions, Cornell East Asia Series, 2003), and a multivolume anthology on Japanese history (Gender and Japanese History, Osaka University Press, 1999; managing editor).

This lecture series is supported by a 2018–19 AY Challenge type 3, Progress 100 (Invitation program for top global researchers) RINK Research Hub for the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Interdisciplinary Studies, Kyushu University grant, The Many Shapes of Meaning: Object and Performance in Asia Across Time. For questions contact cjbogel@lit.kyushu-u.ac.jp (Cynthea J. Bogel, IMAP/IDOC in Japanese Humanities)


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