Selected Writings


Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 384 Illustrations: Published: April 2010

Author: Masao Miyoshi

Editor: Eric Cazdyn

Asian Studies > East Asia, Cultural Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Trespasses presents key writings of the Tokyo-born literary scholar Masao Miyoshi, one of the most important postwar intellectuals to link culture with politics and a remarkable critical voice within the academy. For more than four decades, Miyoshi worked outside the mainstream, trespassing into new fields, making previously unseen connections, and upending naive assumptions. With an impeccable sense of when a topic or discussion had lost its critical momentum, he moved on to the next question, and then the next after that, taking on matters of literary form, cross-cultural relations, globalization, art and architecture, the corporatization of the university, and the threat of ecological disaster. Trespasses reveals the tremendous range of Miyoshi’s thought and interests, shows how his thinking transformed over time, and highlights his recurring concerns.

This volume brings together eleven selections of Miyoshi’s previously published writing, a major new essay, a critical introduction to his life and work, and an interview in which Miyoshi reflects on the trajectory of his thought and the institutional history of modern Japan studies. In the new essay, “Literary Elaborations,” he provides a masterful overview of the nature of the contemporary university, closing with a call for a global environmental protection studies that would radically reconfigure academic disciplines and merge the hard sciences with the humanities and the social sciences. In the other, chronologically arranged selections, Miyoshi addresses cross-culture relations between Japan and the United States, English literary studies in Japan, and Japan studies in the U.S., as well as the organization of urban space and the integrity of art and architecture in aggressively marketed-oriented environments. Trespasses is an invaluable introduction to the work of a fearless cultural critic.


Trespasses presents a most valuable selection of critical essays from a highly significant literary critic and public intellectual. . . . This collection gives us a fine sense of his range and his critical method. That he eschewed strict disciplinary boundaries and conventions was shaped by his life, his personal style, and his politics. These essays trace his intellectual trajectories across and between national cultures, guided by an unwavering attention to historical location and purpose.” — David Palumbo-Liu, Criticism

“There is no denying that Masao Miyoshi’s Trespasses is a challenging yet deeply engaging collection of the writings from a major figure in Japanese studies (and one of its most outspoken critics), who could not be hemmed in by disciplinary fences. It proves that he still has much to teach those of us who walk in his footsteps.” — Kyu Hyun Kim, Pacific Affairs

“There is much food for thought here and Miyoshi, always searching and provocative, asks the right questions.” — David Burleigh, Japan Times

“The great range and scope of the texts complied in this anthology and the clarity and urgency of voice and vision which characterizes Miyoshi's critique will indubitably bring his ideas and concerns to a wider audience.” — Bastian Balthazar Becker, Social Text

“I mourn and celebrate a comrade. Here in luminous prose are the resonances: A double bind about double consciousness; a desire to keep the trivialized humanities committed to justice; a concern for the native language, for translation as active practice rather than passive convenience, for the burden of English, the political economy of globalization, and the transformation of knowledge into intellectual property; a critique of the university from within; ever mercurial, hard to situate. Il miglior fabbro.” — Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

“Radical art, the commercialization of the university, the nation-state, Japan and the West, cultural studies, subjectivity and pronouns, ecology, the state of things from Korea to the Mexican border, or from Cardinal Newman to documenta X—such are the seemingly heterogeneous materials united by a commitment to an implacable unification of the aesthetic and the political, of attention to art and attention to globalization, which Miyoshi’s lifework holds out for us like an ideal.” — Fredric Jameson, from the foreword


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Masao Miyoshi (1928–2009) was the Hajime Mori Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Japanese, English, and Comparative Literature at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of several books, including Off Center: Power and Culture Relations between Japan and the United States, Accomplices of Silence: The Modern Japanese Novel, and this is not here. He is a co-editor of Learning Places: The Afterlives of Area Studies, The Cultures of Globalization, and Postmodernism and Japan, all also published by Duke University Press.

Eric Cazdyn is Professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Flash of Capital: Film and Geopolitics in Japan, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Fredric Jameson xi

Introduction. Trespasser: An Introduction to the Life and Work of Masao Miyoshi / Eric Cazdyn xv

Literary Elaborations 1

First-Person Pronouns in Japanese Diaries (1979) 49

The Tale of Genji: Translation as Interpretation (1979) 77

Who Decides, and Who Speaks? Shutaisei and the West in Postwar Japan (1991) 83

The Invention of English Literature in Japan (1993) 111

A Borderless World? From Colonialism to Transnationalism and the Decline of the Nation-State (1993) 127

Outside Architecture (1996) 151

"Bunburying" in the Japan Field: A Reply to Jeff Humphries (1997) 159

Art without Money: documenta X (1998) 175

Japan Is Not Interesting (1999) 189

Ivory Tower in Escrow: Ex Uno Plures (2000) 205

Turn to the Planet: Literature and Diversity, Ecology and Totality (2001) 243

A Conversation with Masao Miyoshi (2000) 263

Notes 285

Selected Works by Masao Miyoshi 331

Index 333
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4637-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4626-5
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