Fellow's Seminar: Mr. Jesse Palmer

Invitation to the Fellow’s Seminar Fiscal 2008-2009 (on July 30, 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 Mr. Jesse Palmer.

Date: Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Time: 15:00-17:00
Venue: Seminar Room 3 at the Japan Foundation Head Office.

Note: The Japan Foundation headquarters moved to the new office. Please refer to the link below.

AdmissionAdmission Fee: Free
Language: English (no interpretation)
AdmissionSession Theme: “Ennin’s Diary as a key to understanding the Japanese appropriation of culture in the early Heian period”
Contact: If you would like to attend the seminar, please notify Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange Dept. by July 30, 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
Presenter: Mr. Jesse Palmer
Mr. Jesse Palmer is a Ph.D. candidate in University of California Irvine. With the support of the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Studies Fellowship, he is currently affiliated with Historiographical Institute, University of Tokyo, conducting his research on Enin in preparation for finishing his dessertation.
Presentation Theme: “Ennin’s Diary as a key to understanding the Japanese appropriation of culture in the early Heian period”

My research explores Ennin’s Journal as a key to understanding the Heian appropriation of continental cultural technologies.  Formerly, Ennin’s Jounral has been valued primarily as a historical source for Tang China.  However, this reading ignores Ennin’s subjectivity in choosing what to represent.  Refocusing on Ennin’s subjectivity enables us to see the journal as a series of choices, a negotiation of cultural identity that reveals the significance of the Tang in Heian Japan. 

First, I discuss precedents for the diary and review the East Asian journal tradition to 838.  Then I focus on Ennin’s interaction with the Tang bureaucracy and the many letters to officials to reveal Ennin’s understanding of the relationship between Buddhism and the state in Tang and Heian society.  Next is an examination of the records of Ennin’s actual travels from place to place, particularly the road to Mt. Wutai and his travel in Mt. Wutai in terms of the sacralization of space and a possible connection between mountain religion in China and Japan.  Finally, I show how Ennin’s record of various rituals reveals a paradigm of ritual as cultural technology, a much more comprehensive view of ritual than one that sees Ennin as merely a transmitter of Tendai esotericism.  Future plans involve chapters covering the economic aspects of the journal, the Huichang persecution, and the effect of the journal on the subsequent journal tradition. 

In the limited time I have, in addition to presenting highlights from each chapter, I am very interesting in receiving feedback from the audience and would like to be flexible according to their interests.

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