Associate Professor of Japanese Literature, Boston University
Sarah Frederick's profile
Arriving in Sōseki’s Kyoto: A Digital Humanities Approach to Sōseki?
The essay “Kyo ni tsukeru yūbe” (March 1910, Osaka shinbun) begins with Sōseki’s arrival at Kyoto Station and moves us around the geography of Kyoto and across time, from his current trip, to one with Masaoka Shiki “15 or 16 years earlier,” and even to the time of Emperor Kammu. Spaces and times connect through memories, historical consciousness, sensations, images, dreams, and dialogues. The essay’s embodied narrator remains in “last night” and so the whirlwind tour of Kyoto is one that takes place in the mind, in a manner quite different from, for example, the ambling accounts of a flâneur type figure. Because of what might be called, anachronistically, a hyperlinked style of movement, “Kyō no yūbe” makes an interesting starting point for exploring the possible contribution of the digital humanities, and mapping in particular, for the study of Sōseki and modern Japanese literary representations of the city. Inspired by Maeda Ai, the paper considers the city as part of literary analysis, not simply as a setting or background, but as a formative aspect of the modern self. It raises the question, and it remains an open question I feel, of how effectively we might use new technologies for mapping and visualization to push further the possibilities of Maeda’s insights. This paper is part of a larger digital humanities project on modern Kyoto with Alice Tseng (Art and Architecture, BU) and Boston University students, using a close reading and digital mapping to analyze layers of Kyoto culture in the 20th century.