Modernism in East Asia Lecture Series - To Live Here: Worlds of the Modernist Haiku with Christopher Bush

In a span of about twenty years, starting at the turn of the twentieth century, the haiku went from being barely known outside of Japan to what could fairly be called a world literary form. In addition to the widespread translation (often retranslation) of Japanese haiku, there also arose an original literary production in English, French, Spanish, Italian, and other languages. This included not only the bits of lyric exoticism one might expect, but also works that engaged with many of the central issues of modernist poetics and indeed modernity more broadly.

My talk will focus on three key moments in the modernist haiku tradition: the earliest French-language collection, Au fil de l’eau (1905); haiku written about the experience of trench warfare during the First World War and its connections to the avant-garde (most notably Julian Vocance’s Cent visions de guerre (1916)); and the Mexican haiku movement of the 1920s, including its reception in Europe. My conclusion turns to the Japanese haiku poet Masaoka Shiki’s reinvention of the haiku form in order to consider how a more comparative history of the modernist haiku might help us interrogate both the world and the literature of “world literature.”

Christopher Bush is Associate Professor of French at Northwestern University, where he co-directs the Global Avant-garde and Modernist Studies graduate cluster and co-edits Modernism/modernity. His first book, Ideographic Modernism: China, Writing, Media, was published by Oxford University Press in 2010 and he is currently completing The Floating World: Modernism’s Japan (for Columbia University Press) while working on several other projects.

The CEAS "Modernism in East Asia" lecture series rethinks a foundational humanities concept-"modernism"-in new contexts.  Moving beyond stand-alone national frames, it stages a boundary-crossing conversation about aesthetic practices that help us to see the modernist imagination, broadly defined, in a global idiom.  In so doing, the lecture series provides a venue to discuss the methods of interdisciplinary critique that scholars have recently developed in fields ranging from comparative literature and architectural history to photography and beyond.

Lecture series organized by UT Department of Asian Studies Assistant Professor Brian Hurley.  

This event will be held on Zoom and is open to the public.

Dial-In Information

Friday, April 16, 2021 at 3:00pm

Virtual Event
Event Type

Academics, Arts & Humanities, World & Culture


All Departments

Target Audience

Students, Faculty, Alumni




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