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CJS Noon Lecture ~ "Picturing Hachiman: Using the Past to Serve the Present"

Thursday, January 26, 2012
5:00 AM
Room 1636, School of Social Work Building, 1080 South University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106

Melanie Trede; 2011-12 Toyota Visiting Professor, CJS; Professor, History of Japanese Art, Heidelberg University

Do medieval narratives and their pictorializations matter today? In 2007, a scandal at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco involved a 1389 handscroll of the Hachiman narrative, raising questions regarding the relevance of history, the veracity of images, and the politics of display. Beginning with a disciplinary critique and methodological explorations, this paper examines the influential history of the Hachiman legend and its visualizations. Drawing on thick descriptions of three pre-modern handscrolls and popular imagery of the 1870s and 1880s, I argue that the repeated textual and pictorial reinventions were imperative in devotional, individual, institutional and political times of crisis. Melanie Trede (2011-12 Toyota Visiting Professor, Center for Japanese Studies; Professor, History of Japanese Art, Heidelberg University) is the author of Image, Text and Audience: The Taishokan Narrative in Visual Representations of the Early Modern Period in Japan (Peter Lang Verlag, 2003) and Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (Taschen, 2007/2010), among other titles. She is the principal investigator of the research area “Public Spheres” at the cluster of excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context,” and leads a project on medieval illuminated handscrolls within the collaborative research center "Material text cultures," both at Heidelberg University. She currently works on two projects that address the Political Iconography of the Hachiman Legend, and art exhibition strategies between Japan and Germany in the 1930s and 40s.