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Strangeness in the Early Nineteenth Century

Strangeness in the Early Nineteenth Century

Commercialism, Conservatism, and Diffusion

(p.141) Chapter 6 Strangeness in the Early Nineteenth Century
The Aesthetics of Strangeness
W. Puck Brecher
University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter begins by examining the impact of Ban Kōkei's Kinsei kijinden on publishing and print culture, particularly how the signifiers ki and kijin became applied to an array of contexts, including political dissent. It then considers developments within nanga circles, wherein the familiarity of aesthetic strangeness caused painters to retreat from ki, a sentiment increasingly articulated in painting treatises (garon). This retrenchment formalized aesthetic rubrics, refining the genre in ways that limited its potential to create eccentric art. Finally, the chapter considers three prominent cultural figures—Uragami Gyokudō, Kagawa Kageki, and Watanabe Kazan—who, despite the ongoing diffusion and commodification of strangeness, found personal meaning in eccentricity and established legacies that would redirect the course of Japan's cultural field.

Keywords:   aesthetic strangeness, Kinsei kijinden, political dissent, aesthetic rubrics, eccentricity, Uragami Gyokudo, Kagawa Kageki, Watanabe Kazan

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