Nationally recognized scholars hold symposium on Japanese visual culture at Fairfield University

Image: Genjo SanzoFairfield University's Asian Studies program and Humanities Institute will host three nationally recognized scholars during a half-day symposium on Japanese visual culture. The event entitled "Fantastic Worlds and Imaginary Journeys In Japanese Visual Culture" will be held on Wednesday, March 16 from 1:00-5:30 p.m. in the Multimedia Room of the DiMenna-Nyselius Library.

Conference organizers include Fairfield's Manyul Im, associate professor of philosophy and Ive Covaci, ASIANetwork-Luce Foundation postdoctoral fellow. The event is free and open to the public.

With growing academic interest in Japanese visual culture, the program examines the role of images in cultural contexts extending beyond objects traditionally considered under the label of 'fine art.' The aim of the interdisciplinary conference is to explore 'the imaginary' as related to geography and travel in Japanese visual culture.

Covaci, who is also one of the speakers, will present a paper on the depictions of dream journeys in medieval narrative scrolls. She hopes the conference will spark a lively discussion on the conceptions of real and imaginary landscapes in Japanese visual arts. "Attendees will get to see some beautiful images of medieval and early modern Japanese art, and to hear how scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds approach questions of geography, landscape and travel in Japanese visual culture," she said. There will be a question and answer period following each presentation.

Covaci regularly writes about art history and her current book project "Dreaming Images: Picturing Visions in Pre-modern Japan," looks at the relationship between dreams and the visual arts in 12th through 14th century Japan. She teaches courses in Japanese and Asian art at Fairfield, and is particularly interested in Japanese narrative handscrolls. Covaci earned her doctorate degree from Yale University.

D. Max Moerman, associate professor in the department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College, Columbia University has been selected as the keynote speaker for the event. During his presentation, Moerman will discuss how Japanese Buddhists imagined the sacred geography of India through a history of Japanese cartography.

A scholar with a doctorate degree in religious studies from Stanford University, Moerman is the author of "Localizing Paradise: Kumano Pilgrimage and the Religious Landscape of Premodern Japan." He has written many articles on Buddhism and religion in pre-modern Japan, and his current project "Geographies of the Imagination: Buddhist Cosmology and the Japanese World Map, 1364-1865" is in press from Harvard University Asia Center.

Robert Goree, postdoctoral fellow at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University specializes in Japanese literature of the Edo period and is especially interested in investigating the significance of illustrated gazetteers within the contexts of cultural geography, print capitalism, and literary history. His presentation will discuss how these 18th and 19th century printed gazetteers provided a broad audience with satisfying experiences of virtual travel through real geographies.

An active translator as well, Goree's most recent work appears in an NHK television program and book series called J-Bungaku and in the latest book of photography by Seto Masato called Binran.

Goree received his doctorate degree in East Asian languages and literatures from Yale University. He currently teaches pre-modern Japanese literature in Harvard's Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations.

For more information contact Ive Covaci, Ph.D., at (203) 254-4000 ext. 2350 or e-mail at

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Media Contact: Mark Gregorio, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647,

Posted on March 7, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 227

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