May 1 2015: Family Memorials, Waka, and Material Culture

In 1194, Fujiwara no Teika composed a sequence of eight poems (waka) on themes and passages in the Lotus Sutra, to be inscribed on frontispiece illustrations in a set of copies of the sutra offered as a memorial for his late mother. This lecture focuses on these poems as a site for considering practices of poetic composition occasioned by mourning and memorial rites and linked to the production of visual representations and reproductions of Buddhist scriptural texts. Teika’s offering can be read alongside and as part of a rich tradition of waka composition directly engaged with the Lotus Sutraitself.  But his 1194 memorial also invites consideration as an example of the intimate and productive engagement of waka with material culture; and there may be good reasons to think of poems such as these as material culture, as things created and preserved among the artifacts of family remembrance for the dead. 


About Edward Kamens

Edward Kamens is Sumitomo Professor of East Asian Languages & Literatures at the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Yale University. His research interests focuses primarily on the poetry and prose genres of the early and medieval Japan. 

Major publications include Utamakura, Allusion and Intertextuality in Traditional Japanese Poetry (1997); The Buddhist Poetry of the Great Kamo Priestess: Daisaiin Senshi and Hosshin wakashū (1990); and The Three Jewels: A Study and Translation of Minamoto Tamenori’s Sanboe (1988); Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries , ed. with Mikael Adolphson and Stacie Matsumoto (2007); and articles in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies and Journal of Japanese Studies. His current projects examine the relationship between traditional poetry (waka) and material culture.

Time and place

This lecture is open to the public
When: Fri. May 1, 2015, 15:15 - 17:00
Where: KOG (Kamerling Onnes Gebouw; Law Faculty), room A051, address: Steenschuur 25

Last Modified: 10-06-2015