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Title: Samurai, Jesuits, Puppets, and Bards: The End(s) of the Kōwaka Ballad
Authors: Schwemmer, Patrick Reinhart
Advisors: Hare, Thomas
Watsky, Andrew
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: Japan
Seventeenth Century
Subjects: Asian literature
Theater history
Romance literature
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation is a transversal study of changes undergone by the kōwaka ballad during Japan’s transition from the middle ages of civil war, free exchange with Asia, and European contact, to the orderly domestic and foreign relations of the Edo period. As the kōwaka, which in the sixteenth century had rivaled the noh theatre for warrior patronage, began to change medium, format, and sociopolitical context in the seventeenth century, the traditional view is that it “quickly deteriorated once the samurai began turning to urban fads and foppery.” (Araki 1964) However, my materials tell a different story. Each chapter grows from my transcription, edition, and translation of a previously-undiscussed artifact. An illustrated handscroll of a latter-day ballad in Princeton’s library shows how that format was used for political commentary by Kyoto book craftspeople and their warrior-bureaucrat patrons in the time of Edo’s ascendancy. A libretto held in Paris adapts the same ballad to the early puppet theatre, this time making the main characters female and intensifying the melodramatic sentiment that appealed to the urban commoner class created by Kyoto’s new monetized economy. A noh play extant in three libretti in Tokyo rewrites the same story as an unproblematic paean to shogunal authority, while nevertheless displaying a critical consciousness of the working of ideology. In Volume Two, I introduce three pieces of Jesuit missionary literature in Japanese from a 1591 manuscript in the Vatican Library, whose vocabulary and formulae borrow heavily from the kōwaka. A miracle story set in Japan bears a colophon suggesting its function as a polemic against Hideyoshi’s expulsion edict. A ballad of The Passion of the Christ displays Japanese Jesuit appropriation of kōwaka discourse in its most developed extant form. A devotional meditation on the Instruments of the Passion grapples with a poetic paradox created by the role of honorifics in Japanese, while a theological postscript is rendered in a formulaic, Luso-Japanese discourse created on analogy with Sino-Japanese. Together, these new texts reveal not the kōwaka’s death but its diffusion and renewal along many cultural trajectories during Japan’s transition to early modernity.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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