Rethinking the Scope of Sinitic Literacy in Japan: Conceptualization and Composition

Mr Matthew  Fraleigh1, Mr Han  SONG2, Mr Yoshitaka YAMAMOTO3, Ms Ye YUAN4, Mr Rintato GOYAMA5

1Brandeis University, Waltham/Boston, United States, 2Ferris Women’s University, Yokohama, Japan, 3National Institute of Japanese Literature, Tokyo, Japan, 4Columbia University, New York, United States, 5Keio University, Tokyo, Japan

Co-Chairs: Ye Yuan and Yoshitaka Yamamoto


In light of scholarly efforts to eschew geopolitical divisions in premodern East Asia, the regional framework of the Sinographic sphere, premised on a shared written culture based on Sinitic texts, has gained prominence as a new way of understanding the cultural history of East Asia. While attention has been paid to the varied realizations of Sinitic literature and culture in different parts of the region, the nature and mode of such realizations remain unclear. By focusing on Sinitic literacy and learning in pre-1900 Japan from Heian to Meiji periods, this panel inquires how Japanese intellectuals in different time periods conceptualized and practiced, particularly by way of literary composition, the Sinitic language and literature within their respective cultural milieus.

The primary goal of this panel will be to challenge and question the currently accepted notions of what constituted Sinitic literacy in pre-1900 Japan. By emphasizing the process of Sinitic study rather than the literary products, the panelists will consider specific examples of Sinitic writing that expanded and redefined the scope of Sinitic literacy in Japan, ranging from prose compositions in variant Sinitic and vernacular Chinese to imitations of Chinese imperial examinations and attempts to modernize Sinitic poetry.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Visit Victoria

© 2019 Conference Design Pty Ltd