Monday, April 15 2024

This talk focuses on plant life in the writing of Japanese modernist author and film critic Osaki Midori (1896-1971), whose experimental works feature a new approach to plants somewhere in between science and poetry, or what famed literary critic Hanada Kiyoteru called “plants of the 20th century.” Employing methodologies from the emerging field of critical plant studies and arguing for the importance of taking plants seriously in our reading of literature, Pitt demonstrates how Osaki’s figuration of moss in her best-known work Wandering in the Realm of the Seventh Sense (1931) ties the novella to Japan’s colonial nexus while simultaneously attempting to resist the ideology of social Darwinism that was used to help justify Japan’s imperial project. Through a creative engagement with evolutionary theory, Osaki wrote of moss as a distant ancestor of humans, crafting a utopian yet ultimately ambivalent vision of evolution that was not hierarchical or unidirectional.

Wednesday, March 29 2023

In this lecture, Marran offers an analysis of island chains in the work of famed author of industrial pollution, Ishimure Michiko, beginning with the question of how best to address specific island-sea cosmologies in relation to the broader archipelago of “Japan.” Showing synchronicities between Ishimure and Édouard Glissant’s poetics regarding archipelagoes, Marran demonstrates how Ishimure’s philosophy explicitly decenters humanistic approaches to island-chains to forward a planetary commons that rejects geopolitical and ethnic identities as primary modes of belonging…