The turn of the century was a watershed moment for periodical publishing in Japan, as a highly literate populace began subscribing to magazines in the many thousands. This talk will examine the roles of industrially reproduced photographic images and oral performance genres in the development of mass market-oriented discursive spaces for Japanese literary writing and modern popular culture. The talk will focus on the publishing company Hakubunkan, which revolutionized magazine publishing through war photography and color prints; and Kôdansha, which became Japan’s premier entertainment publisher by popularizing late Meiji forms of oral performance, as well as Kunikida Doppo's reportage from the front lines of the Sino-Japanese War. In this transformative period, the near-universal status of typography as a medium for popular discourse was predicated on the integration of non-typographic visual and auditory media into the circulation of mass-produced print.
Nathan Shockey is Assistant Professor of Japanese at Bard College, where he teaches courses on modern Japanese literature, media, and cultural history. He is the author of The Typographic Imagination: Reading and Writing in Japan’s Age of Modern Print Media (Columbia UP, 2019), which explores how Japan’s modern commercial print revolution transformed ideas and practices of prose, language, philosophy, and politics.