The Book as Map: Illustrated Gazetteers and the Representation of Place in Late Tokugawa Japan
Robert Goree - Assistant Professor of Japanese, Wellesley College
During the last eighty years of the Tokugawa period (1603–1867), gazetteers called meisho zue enjoyed tremendous commercial success as a fresh but familiar form of popular geography. The multivolume large-format books combined equal parts image and text in painstakingly sketched and researched surveys of meisho (famous places) located in cities, domains, provinces, and regions throughout the Japanese archipelago. This presentation demonstrates how meisho zue function as innovative maps that leverage the place-making capacities of the codex, graphic illustration, single sheet maps, and descriptive prose. Imbued with the qualities of literature and visual art, these books-cum-maps are a hybrid form of print that foregrounds the alterity of cartography and cultural production in early modern Japan.
Robert Goree is an assistant professor in the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Wellesley College. His research and teaching engage with the literary and cultural history of Japan. His first monograph, Printing Landmarks: Meisho zue and Popular Geography in Late Tokugawa Japan, investigates the history and significance of best-selling illustrated gazetteers published in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.