Northwestern Events Calendar


"Dissecting the Stage: Archival Traces of Spectacle and Performance in Early Modern Japan": Melissa Van Wyk (University of Chicago)

When: Friday, February 24, 2023
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM CT

Where: Harris Hall, 108, 1881 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Peter Carroll   (847) 491-2753

Group: East Asia Research Forum

Co-Sponsor: Department of Asian Languages and Cultures

Category: Academic


Please join the East Asia Research Forum and the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures as they host Melissa Van Wyk (University of Chicago) for this talk.

This presentation will address theater’s participation in the pleasure and play of knowledge in early modern Japan by emphasizing the centrality of kabuki’s spectacular elements to its dramaturgy and by demonstrating how the adoption of techniques and technological innovations from spectacle shows (misemono) influenced kabuki’s theater space and aesthetics. Tracing this history through the fragmentary archive of kabuki’s backstage spaces and figures—its set designers, playwrights, and theater managers—in fiction and ephemera, this talk explores how texts and prints about the theater across the 19th century invited readers into the secretive spaces and perspectives behind, below, and above the stage. The illustration of these particular visions of the theater — all, in one way or another, imaginary — sheds light on kabuki as a source of spectacle, curiosity, and technological fascination across the nineteenth century. 

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