Reconsidering "Pictures of Beauties" in the Era of #metoo: An Utamaro Case Study - by Julie Nelson Davis

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
LUT LUT 200 Instruction and Events
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Hochberg, Rachel A

Perspectives Lecture Series: Reflections on the history and future of books, texts, and libraries as core components of education in the liberal and other arts.

Join us for a reception at 4:00pm and talk at 4:30pm.

In 1804 the artist Kitagawa Utamaro and writer Jippensha Ikku offered a sneak peek of the annual events of the licensed prostitution district, the Yoshiwara, to the readers in Edo. Their book, the Annual Events of the ‘Azure Towers,’ Illustrated  (Seirō ehon) Nenjū gyōji, became one of the most famous from the era and has often been interpreted as representing the life and culture of the quarter. In this presentation, I will overturn that reading and address how we might take a new look at this book, as well as at other images of “beauties,” arguing that now, more than ever, it is vital that we put these images and texts into a critical dialogue with their social and historical contexts. 

Julie Nelson Davis is Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches the arts of East Asia from 1600 to the present, with a focus on early modern Japan. Davis is one of the foremost experts on ukiyo-e, the pictures of the floating world. She has published extensively on the topic, including the books, Utamaro and Spectacle of Beauty (2007) and Partners in Print: Artistic Collaboration and the Ukiyo-e Market (2015). Her newest book, Picturing the Floating World: Ukiyo-e in Context, a critical introduction to the field, is forthcoming. Davis has also been guest curator for numerous exhibitions, most recently “Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered” (2017) at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian.  

 This event is free and open to the public. 

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