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The Undiscovered Country: Text, Translation And Modernity In The Work Of Yanagita Kunio

Melek Ortabasi - Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University 
We would like to invite you to join us for the forty-fourth meeting of the East Asian Studies Workshop, co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Center for East Asian Studies, the Department of History, and the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. This workshop will focus on a new book by Professor Melek Ortabasi of Simon Fraser University entitled The Undiscovered Country: Text, Translation and Modernity in the Work of Yanagita Kunio (Harvard East Asian Monographs, 2014).At the workshop, Professor Ortabasiwill first provide an introduction to her book, followed by commentaries from two discussants (TBA). The floor will then be open for questions from the audience.
From the Publisher:Yanagita Kunio (1875–1962) was a public intellectual who played a pivotal role in shaping modern Japan’s cultural identity. A self-taught folk scholar and elite bureaucrat, he promoted folk studies in Japan. So extensive was his role that he has been compared with the fabled Grimm Brothers of Germany and the great British folklorist James G. Frazer (1854–1941), author of The Golden Bough. This monograph is only the second book-length English-language examination of Yanagita, and it is the first analysis that moves beyond a biographical account of his pioneering work in folk studies.An eccentric but insightful critic of Japan’s rush to modernize, Yanagita offers a compelling array of rebuttals to mainstream social and political trends in his carefully crafted writings. Through a close reading of Yanagita’s interdisciplinary texts, which comment on a wide range of key cultural issues that characterized the first half of Japan’s twentieth century, Melek Ortabasi seeks to reevaluate the historical significance of his work. Ortabasi’s inquiry simultaneously exposes, discursively, some of the fundamental assumptions we embrace about modernity and national identity in Japan and elsewhere.
Melek Ortabasi is an Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.  She teaches modern literature, film, and the theory and practice of translation; specializing in Japanese literature and culture. Her research interests include cultural studies, comparative folklore studies, children’s literature, and film and popular culture in contemporary Japan. Some of Dr. Ortabasi's articles have appeared in the books Japanese Visual Culture, A Century of Popular Culture in Japan, and the Encyclopedia of Life Writing. Her co-edited anthology of literary translations, The Modern Murasaki: Women Writers of Meiji Japan, was published by Columbia University Press in 2006. Inspired by Yanagita’s interest in children and education, a topic she examines in her book The Undiscovered Country, she is starting a new project on children’s literature and translation.



Tuesday, February 10, 2015. 04:30 PM


Knight Building, Room 201 (521 Memorial Way)


Center for East Asian Studies




Free and Open to the Public; RSVP to