Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Re-Envisioning the Workings of Text and Image: "Yoru no Nezame" and Late-Heian Literature and Art
by Peterson, Joannah Lynn, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2016, 246; 10116172
Abstract (Summary)

The Heian era (794–1185) of Japan lends itself to rich explorations of the relationships between text and image. The two intermingled in the lives of the elite, ever-present on screens and sliding doors, fans, and clothing, and in the era’s most renowned achievements: tale literature ( monogatari) and picture scrolls (emaki). Although the canonical Tale of Genji (ca. 1008) and the late-Heian picture scroll illustrating it have long served as focal points for studies on the relationship between textual and visual narratives, the place of visuality in tales after the Genji has been largely ignored or deemed imitative. This dissertation focuses on a historically overlooked tale of the late-eleventh century, Yoru no Nezame (“Sleepless at Night”), and the picture scroll that illustrates it, The Nezame Scrolls (Nezame monogatari emaki, late-twelfth century). My readings uncover the strategic use of conventionalized formulas ( kata) in both verbal and visual-verbal texts. I explore how kata operated as an artistic idiom for the manipulation of characters and scenes by late-Heian tale writers and illustrators. Contrary to the assumption that convention is the hallmark of unoriginality, convention became a critical medium for expression.

Yoru no Nezame’s fragmentary state contributes to the lack of sustained research on the tale and the scroll that illustrates it. However, recently discovered textual fragments of Yoru no Nezame and The Nezame Scrolls have altered our understanding of the scroll and call for its re-examination. My analysis reveals a more complex relationship between text and image and suggests a re-ordering of the paintings that reflects our revised understanding. The verbal and visual texts of Yoru no Nezame can also be seen as socio-historical commentary, particularly in their ironic stance towards the fictional emperor. This dissertation offers a richer understanding of synergistic forms of cultural production by demonstrating the ideological and historical underpinnings of text and image in the late-Heian era.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sarra, Edith L.
Commitee: Foster, Michael D., Stubbs, Judith A., Suzuki, Michiko
School: Indiana University
Department: East Asian Languages & Cultures (EALC)
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 77/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Medieval literature, Asian literature, Art history
Keywords: Classical Japanese literature, Emaki, Emperor, Japan, Japanese painting, Tale of Genji, Yoru no Nezame
Publication Number: 10116172
ISBN: 978-1-339-77640-8
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