The Journal of Japanese Studies

 

Abstract

JONATHAN ZWICKER
Playbills, Ephemera, and the Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Japan

In 1815, Shikitei Sanba wrote prefaces to two scrapbooks: one in which he had collected ephemera and broadsheets related to the history of Edo’s raconteurs and the other a 16-album collection of playbills. As physical objects, both are deeply suggestive: each is a manuscript comprised entirely of printed matter, a unique object fashioned from mass-produced material. This essay uses these collections to explore the historical imagination in the early decades of the nineteenth century, a time when the theater loomed large as a metaphor for the broader social world and a time when that world came increasingly to be defined by print and commerce.

Volume 35, Number 1 (Winter 2009)
© 2009 Society for Japanese Studies

 

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