Panel: Writing

Hoyt Long, University of Chicago

Raja Adal, University of Cincinnati

Miyako Inoue, Stanford University

Jun Mizukawa, Columbia University

Respondent: Reginald Jackson, University of Chicago

This panel focuses on “writing” as an embodied practice and cultural technique that has undergone drastic remediation over the last century and a half. At a time when digital technologies would appear to be making conventional notions of writing obsolete or antiquated, it is useful to look back to earlier moments when new forms of communication and mechanical processes intervened in accultured modes of inscription. Not, however, to tell the simple story of how these modes were likewise subsumed by others. But rather to overturn such teleological narratives and reveal the ways that ideas and practices of writing are always both clarified and contested in the process of their being remediated.

In the case of Japan, this means looking at how specific technologies (e.g., fountain pen, telegraph, typewriter, shorthand) introduced new techniques of inscription while placing new demands on existent practices (e.g., brush-writing, written communication). But also at how this interplay was itself a negotiation between different theories of writing—and of the writing “Japanese” subject—implicit in these techniques and practices. It is through such historical reconsiderations of writing that panel participants hope to reflect on current conversations about mediation, expression, and the technologized self in East Asia and beyond.