(Columbia University Press, 2019)
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Nathan Shockey examines the emergence of new forms of reading, writing, and thinking in Japan from the last years of the nineteenth century through the first decades of the twentieth. Charting the relationships among prose, politics, and print capitalism, he considers the meanings and functions of print as a staple commodity and as a ubiquitous and material medium for discourse and thought. Drawing on extensive archival research, The Typographic Imagination brings into conversation a wide array of materials, including bookseller trade circulars, language reform debates, works of experimental fiction, photo gazetteers, socialist periodicals, Esperanto primers, declassified censorship documents, and printing press strike bulletins. Combining the rigorous close analysis of Japanese literary studies with transdisciplinary methodologies from media studies, book history, and intellectual history, The Typographic Imagination presents a multivalent vision of the rise of mass print media and the transformations of modern Japanese literature, language, and culture.
“Rich in detail and vast in scope, The Typographic Imagination deftly charts a course through the roiling complexity of print media that collectively generated a typographic effect in the early twentieth century. But the stroke of genius lies in how the perspective of print allows Shockey to overturn our understanding of modernization, highlighting a pulse of nonlinear difference coursing through print media, resurfacing intensified in strange new characters and movements.”
– Thomas Lamarre, Duke University
Nathan Shockey is an assistant professor of Japanese at Bard College.