Julie Nelson Davis, Professeure d’histoire de l’art à l’Université de Pennsylvanie, donnera deux conférences, les 5 et 8 mars prochains.

Representing the Yoshiwara in Print: An Utamaro Case Study in the Era after #metoo

Mardi 5 mars 2024, 16h-17h30, Amphi Turing, Bâtiment Sophie-Germain, Université Paris Cité, 8 Place Aurélie Nemours, 75013 Paris

In one of the most famous early modern illustrated books, the Annual Events of the ‘Azure Towers,’ Illustrated (Seirō ehon) Nenjū gyōji, from 1804, artist Kitagawa Utamaro and writer Jippensha Ikku described the festivals and customs that marked the annual calendar for the licensed prostitution district, the Yoshiwara, in the city of Edo. Often appreciated as one of the most beautiful books of its time, it has been often described as a kind of insiders’ view into the secret life of the quarter, as though documentary in intent. In this presentation, I overturn that reading and address how the book served to promote the district, arguing that now, more than ever, we need to put this book, along with other images of “beauties,” into a critical dialogue with their social and historical contexts. Taking up some of the issues addressed by the #metoo movement, this talk further addresses ways to think more critically about the role of art history, literary studies, and Japanese studies in problematic narratives that extend into the present.


Replica and Model: The Brush in the Printed Book

Vendredi 8 mars 2024, 10h30-12h, Amphi Buffon, 15 Rue Hélène Brion, 75013 Paris

Often when we open an Edo-period printed book, we encounter illustrations that look like paintings or at handwriting that looks so much like calligraphy. Some look so much like brushed ink on paper that we might pause and ask: is it really printed? The swells and drags of the brush preserved in print the movement of the hand, alluding through the illusion to the intentions of the artist. Some model the brush so fully that they came to define artistic style and authorial gesture. In this lecture, I will consider how, for their makers and viewers, woodblock printed books served to represent other media, sometimes even functioning like simulacra of their originals. Looking at examples where verisimilitude is sought, as well as interrupted, this presentation will explore intermedial dialogues between brush, block, baren, and paper, querying the limits of illusionism. How these books functioned, too, in later replications, raises important issues around the status of the original and the implications of the brush made multiple.




Julie Nelson Davis se consacre à l’étude des arts et de la culture matérielle du Japon au xviiie et au xixe siècle.
Ses travaux portent en particulier sur l’estampe, la peinture et le livre illustré, et explorent les questions liées à la pratique artistique, à la notion d’auteur, au genre, ainsi qu’à la censure.
Principaux ouvrages : Partners in Print: Artistic Collaboration and the Ukiyo-e Market, University of Hawai’i Press, 2015 ; Utamaro and the Spectacle of Beauty, Reaktion Books, 2007, réed. 2021 ; Picturing the Floating World: Ukiyo-e in Context, University of Hawai’i Press, 2021.

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