Fellow's Seminar: Dr.Miya Elise Mizuta

Invitation to the Fellow’s Seminar Fiscal 2008-2009 (on June 19, 2008)

The Japan Foundation
General Coordination and the Americas Div.

The Japan Foundation would like to welcome you to join us for the Fellows' Seminar for Fiscal 2008-2009. The presenter is Dr.Miya Elise Mizuta. Details of the session are as follows:

Presentation Theme: "Illuminated Japan in the Era of Electric Light"

Electric lighting quickly penetrated the outlying areas of Japan at the turn of the twentieth century, much faster than perhaps any other symbol of modernity. By century’s end, Japan led the world in the use of fluorescent lighting (keikōtō) as a mainstay and standard of light fixtures in homes. Yet, the image of Japan had once conjured for many in the West visions of a dimly lit land of paper lanterns (chōchin). This representative image of Japan was sustained for more than half a century, and, as noted by Mishima Yukio in 1953, the Japanese definition of the lantern as fire wrapped in paper continued to spark curiosity in the West into the postwar period. From lantern to electric lighting, the motif of light has remained central to the Western visualization of Japan. Why has the motif of light been so crucial to the way in which Japan was perceived across the twentieth century? What role, if any, have Western stereotypes of Japan—seen as a mysterious shadowed world decorated by paper lights, and later as a vast urban terrain of flashing neon signs, sculptures, and illuminated billboards—played in the development of modern Japanese aesthetics and its lighting culture? What else, other than a perversion of rapid modernization and economic development, can be cited as prompting, in the latter half of the twentieth century, what many perceive to be the excessive electrification of Japan? Dr. Mizuta’s presentation explores the trope of illumination in works by prominent writers and artists and the convergence of technology and art in light-based artistic media, thereby addressing the artistic motif of lighting in general and the manner in which electric light in particular transformed the aesthetics of classical Japanese culture.

Presenter: Dr.Miya Elise Mizuta

Dr. Miya Elise Mizuta is an independent scholar of modern Japanese literature and art. She teaches as a lecturer at the University of Southern California, in the departments of Art History and East Asian Languages and Cultures and is managing editor of the Review of Japanese Culture and Society (JôsaiUniversity). During her term as a Getty postdoctoral fellow, she completed her book manuscript Aesthetic Life: The Artistic Discourse of Beauty in Modern Japan.She is currently in Japan for the year as a Japan Foundation Research Fellow, researching her next book project on the theme of illumination in modern Japan, which is provisionally titled From Shadow to Illumination: Art, Literature, and Electric Light in Modern Japan.

Date: Thursday, June 19, 2008
Time: 15:00-17:00
Venue: Seminar Room 2 at the Japan Foundation Head Office. Access
* The Japan Foundation headquarters moved to the new office.
Language: English (no interpretation)
AdmissionAdmission Fee: Free
Contact: If you would like to attend the seminar, please notify Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange Dept. by June 19, 2008 with your name, affiliation, and contact information (tel., fax or e-mail). If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Tel: 03-5369-6069/ Fax: 03-5369-6041 E-mail

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