Virtual Book Launch – Pleasure in Profit: Popular Prose in Seventeenth-Century Japan
The Centre for Japanese Research (CJR) at the University of British Columbia presents a series of online book launches to celebrate recent publications about premodern Japan. For our March event, author Laura Moretti will be discussing Pleasure in Profit: Popular Prose in Seventeenth-Century Japan in conversation with Joshua S. Mostow and Satoko Shimazaki.
• (Interlocutor) Satoko Shimazaki (University of California, Los Angeles)
Thursday, March 11, 2021 11AM-12:15PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Thursday, March 11, 2021 2-3:15PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Friday, March 12, 2021 4-5:15AM in Japan Time
About the Presenters
Laura Moretti is senior lecturer in premodern Japanese studies at the University of Cambridge and a fellow at Emmanuel College. She is the author of Recasting the Past: An Early Modern “Tales of Ise” for Children (2016).
Joshua S. Mostow is a Professor at the University of British Columbia. Joshua S. Mostow is a Professor in the Dept. of Asian Studies at UBC. His publications include Courtly Visions: The Ise Stories and the Politics of Cultural Appropriation (Brill, 2014), Pictures of the Heart: The Hyakunin Isshu in Word and Image (University of Hawai’i Press, 1996), and A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Edo-Period Prints and Paintings (1600-1868), with Asato Ikeda (Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 2016).
Satoko Shimazaki is an Associate Professor of Japanese literature and theater at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on early modern Japanese theater and popular literature; the modern history of kabuki; gender representation on the kabuki stage; and the interaction of performance, print, and text. She is the author of Edo Kabuki in Transition: From the Worlds of the Samurai to the Vengeful Female Ghost (Columbia University Press, 2016), which was awarded the John Whitney Hall Book Prize and honorable mention for the Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theater History. She also has a joint appointment as Associate Professor at Waseda University in Tokyo.
About the Book
Pleasure in Profit: Popular Prose in Seventeenth-Century Japan
Published by Columbia University Press
In the seventeenth century, Japanese popular prose flourished as waves of newly literate readers gained access to the printed word. Commercial publishers released vast numbers of titles in response to readers’ hunger for books that promised them potent knowledge. However, traditional literary histories of this period position the writings of Ihara Saikaku at center stage, largely neglecting the breadth of popular prose.
In the first comprehensive study of the birth of Japanese commercial publishing, Laura Moretti investigates the vibrant world of vernacular popular literature. She marshals new data on the magnitude of the seventeenth-century publishing business and highlights the diversity and porosity of its publishing genres. Moretti explores how booksellers sparked interest among readers across the spectrum of literacies and demonstrates how they tantalized consumers with vital ethical, religious, societal, and interpersonal knowledge. She recasts books as tools for knowledge making, arguing that popular prose engaged its audience cognitively as well as aesthetically and emotionally to satisfy a burgeoning curiosity about the world. Crucially, Moretti shows, readers experienced entertainment within the didactic, finding pleasure in the profit gained from acquiring knowledge by interacting with transformative literature. Drawing on a rich variety of archival materials to present a vivid portrait of seventeenth-century Japanese publishing, Pleasure in Profit also speaks to broader conversations about the category of the literary by offering a new view of popular prose that celebrates plurality.
Available for purchase from Columbia University Press.