Mishima in Bandung: Rethinking Postwar Japanese Literature as Cold War Literature

Michael K. Bourdaghs of the University of Chicago will present the 2019 Hoffman Lecture, Thursday, October 17th. This lecture is sponsored by the Comparative Literature Program at Dartmouth College.


Michael Bourdaghs is Robert S. Ingersoll Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and the College at the University of Chicago. He previously taught at UCLA and received his Ph.D. in Asian Literature from Cornell University.A specialist in modern Japanese literature and culture, he is the author of The Dawn That Never Comes: Shimazaki Tōson and Japanese Nationalism (2003) andSayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop (2012; Japanese translation 2012). He is also a prolific translator, most recently of Kojin Karatani, The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange (2014). He is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow and the recipient of a number of other fellowships and awards. 

This presentation is part of a larger project to reframe what has been conventionally studied as postwar Japanese literature as Cold War culture and to rethink the significance of the Cold War roots of Area Studies for our present moment. It explores Yukio Mishima's acclaimed 1956 novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion and its representations of madness and national culture in relation to three different 1955 systems: the First World of Japan's position as a subservient ally to the United States, the Second World of the socialist bloc in Europe and Asia, and the Third World of decolonization and the Bandung Asian-African Conference of the nonaligned movement.

How does Mishima respond to the various contradictions and double-binds that Cold War global systems imposed on a Japanese writer, and what significance do they have for us in 2019?

This event is free and open to the public.