The second in the Japanese Seminar Series 2016-17, with guest speaker Filippo Cervelli.
This seminar discusses that an important issue in contemporary Japan, as voiced in the arts, is an emphasis on immediacy, summarised by the slogan 'ima deshō', originally introduced in 2009 by prep teacher turned TV celebrity Hayashi Osamu. The phrase captures an age where individuals only concentrate on what is immediately before them, and react to it through rushed actions aiming to fill an ideological vacuum lying in the background. To explore these issues, the paper is a study of the works of contemporary writer and academic Takahashi Genichirō. Takahashi is a prolific author, his production ranging from postmodern novels to short stories, from essays to political writing, as shown by his recent public involvement with the SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy) student movement. Since Takahashi is an author attentive to current issues, an analysis of his vast oeuvre will also shed light on, among others, the contemporary citizens’, especially the youth, perception of the abandonment of the countryside, the problem of finding one’s identity in a society that sees workers merely as disposable pawns, the relationship with (literary) history and tradition in light of the contemporary emphasis on immediacy, and on overcoming the trauma of 3.11 and the mourning of its victims.
Filippo Cervelli is originally from Florence, Italy. He earned his BA and MA in English and German from the University of Florence, then a Master's degree in Modern Japanese Literature from the University of Oxford, for which he wrote a study on the relevance of the written word in the manga Death Note. He is currently reading for a PhD at Oxford, where is writing a dissertation on the role of immediacy in contemporary Japanes literature and popular culture. His main research interests are in contemporary literature, visual culture, social criticism and cultural theory, and in interdisciplinary analysis on how contemporary issues are played out across different media.