Residents of the Japanese archipelago have been avid readers of classical Chinese texts in a great many genres from the very origins of literacy down to the present day. To varying degrees over the centuries, they have also been enthusiastic creators of such texts. This talk examines how authors from the latter half of the early modern period (1603–1868) conceptualized and discussed the reception and composition of Sinitic poetry. What strategies did they use to make Sinitic poetry intelligible to a readership that did not speak Chinese? How did they understand these practices, and how should we think about them? What do their writings tell us about how they perceived the borders between the Japanese and Chinese languages?
Matthew Fraleigh is Associate Professor of East Asian Literature and Culture at Brandeis University. His research concerns the literature of early modern and modern Japan, especially kanshibun (Sinitic poetry and prose). His work has appeared in numerous journals, and he is the author of two books focused on the nineteenth-century Sinological scholar, poet, and journalist Narushima Ryūhoku.