Reconsidering the History of Japanese Film Theory

I am pleased to announce the publication of Issue 22 of the Review of Japanese Culture and Society dedicated to the theme, "Decentering Theory: Reconsidering the History of Japanese Film Theory." This is the first publication in a non-Japanese language to consider the rich and varied history of Japanese film theory. It presents both translations of some of the major works and scholarly analyses of those theorists and their historical contributions to film thought. A major theme throughout the issue is the unique problem of how to approach and define film theory in Japan.

Thinkers represented include Nakai Masakazu, Hasumi Shigehiko, Yoshida Kiju, Imamura Taihei, Gonda Yasunosuke, Sato Tadao, Kitada Akihiro, and Nakamura Hideyuki, with works ranging in era from 1914 to 2011. They all focus on questions of the status of cinema and how to approach it, but other topics broached include animation, early cinema, mediation, spectatorship, documentary, meaning, and Ozu Yasujiro. A translation of one of Akutagawa Ryunosuke's "film scripts" is also included (Akutagawa wrote the stories on which Rashomon is based). 

A list of the issue contents is available on my Books site.

This publication is part of an ongoing project of resurrecting the fascinating history of Japanese film theory that I and some of my students and colleagues are pursuing. I am currently writing a history of Japanese film theory, and working with Abé Mark Nornes to create an anthology of Japanese film theory in English. This issue of the RJCS is a king of test run for that. I am also talking with Iwamoto Kenji in Japan about an anthology in Japanese.

I am quite proud of the translations. We put a lot of effort into them and I think they do justice to the splendid ideas of the original authors.

The Review of Japanese Culture and Society is published by Josai University in Japan. Single issues can be purchased for $20.00 (US). Click here for details.

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