Axis 1 – Fundamental Texts: Interpreting and translating


Coordinator: Anne BAYARD-SAKAI

This axis contains a number of projects with a common scientific objective crucial to us, from an academic and a social point of view: to provide scientifically impeccable French versions of the texts fundamental to Japanese civilization. The work carried out by CEJ strives to irrigate knowledge beyond the expertise of its members, extending to as manyfields of research as possible. In offering access to a large number of Japanese texts with a powerful intellectual dimension, the team promotes intellectual exchanges across these various fields and integrate its own research to debates beyond the field of Japanese studies.


Project 1 — The Tale of Genji

Project director: TERADA Sumie

This long term project, developed in collaboration with the team of CRCAO -University of Paris Diderot, plays a pivotal role in France and hopefully beyond in the study of The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari), an 11th century work written by a woman, and now a crucial reference in Japanese and global literature. Its activities are organized around the following two branches:

- A collective translation workshop: Between 2014 and 2018, work will focus on two chapters in particular. This includes the chapter “Evening Faces,” which is the most illustrated chapter of the book, and has known immeasurable diffusions in the areas of poetry, theater, and the fine arts.

- seminars and workshops organized in three-year cycles; following the art and poetry cycle which will end in 2014, the next cycle (2015 -2017) will discuss the history of ideas (especially the Tale of Genji’s relationship with Buddhism). We will then take on the cycle of “Genji in the Edo Period: Commentaries, imitations, illustrations” (2018 to 2020) which will have strong connections to the “Manuscripts and illustrated books” project. We will also start to prepare our next cycle (2020-2022) titled “Genji and its literary criticism.”

Publication of our work in progress will take the form of a special edition in the Cipango Journal. Following the first Tale of Genji Special Edition in 2008 which met much success, a second edition is currently under preparation, and we hope to publish the third of the Tale of Genji special edition series during the new research cycle.

Student participation in the collective translation sessions has been very stimulating. To promote the educational aspect of our project, we would like to invite the best experts in relevant domains to participate in our academic workshops geared towards European doctorate students.


Project 2 — Modern and contemporary poetry

Project director: Makiko ANDRO-UEDA

Created in 2010, the group promotes the study of Japanese contemporary poetry which up until now did not have its own place in academia. After collecting a repertoire of modern and contemporary poetry already accessible in French (poems, critiques and presentations), the group plans to develop in two directions:

The first goal of the project consists in offering French translations of fundamental Japanese texts. We are currently working on collectively translating Aoneko, a work by Hagiwara Sakutaro (1886-1942), a poet considered the founder of non-versed poetry. We hope to publish a collection in French within the next five years. In addition, we are organizing a seminar about the author and more broadly about the birth of the modern language of poetry in Japan.

Our second research field revolves around three genres of poetry. In 2011 and 2012, we studied Haiku and organized an international academic conference, “Haiku in the in-between: constancy and variation”. Our team is currently the only Japanese research group in France studying this short- form poetry, which has become internationally widespread in the last few decades. In the coming years, using a comparative perspective, we hope to include other researchers working on general forms of short poetry.


Project 3 — Description

Project directors: Anne BAYARD-SAKAI et Estelle FIGON

This project continues the work of the four year cycle of 2010-2013, about the description in literature, in particular in modern Japanese literature, and its aesthetic characteristics. Two 19th and 20th Century texts of a descriptive nature are to be published in a bilingual edition, with relevant summaries and excerpts. The aim of this project is to enrich the theories of representation, and therefore the articulation of fact and discourse in Japan, in the field of literature. This project has an educational aspect as well: to make students aware of fundamental questions in literary theory.

Actions: Theoretical reflections will be organized in preparation of an anthology, followed by regular meetings to discuss relevant texts and related translations.


Project 4 — Study, translation and publication of painting manuscripts and ancient illustrated Japanese books in French collections

Project directors: Christophe MARQUET et Estelle LEGGERI-BAUER

This project, an extension of the four year cycle of 2010-2013, aims to promote a clear understanding for researchers and the public alike of the painting manuscripts and illustrated books, which were until recently overlooked or ignored, in the form of facsimiles, translations and studies.

One of our focus is the history of the collections and their constitution and reception in France (19th-20th Centuries). A second focus is the study of these documents to the context of their production in Japan (17th-19th Century), treating the circulation of images from a historical, anthropological and Sociology of art-point of view. A third, more general focus is to shed light p, theoretical questions directly linked to the study of these documents.

Actions: seminars, publications of facsimiles and studies, workshops and conferences.


Project 5 – Research group on philosophy in Modern Japan

Project directors: SAITŌ Takako, KURODA Akinobu, Simon EBERSOLT, Bernard STEVENS, UEHARA Mayuko

This group, researching philosophy and created in 2001, is one of the oldest groups within CEJ.  During the period 2014-2018, in linewith the general orientation of the research team, the group has decided  study, translate and publish the following texts:
-a text by Maruyama Masao (1914-1996), one of the principal Japanese theologists of the 20th Century who had considerable influence over the post-war intellectual sphere. The text to be translated will be chosen from among his major essays published after 1945 in the field of political and cultural philosophy.
-a text by Kuki Shuzo (1888-1941), an aesthetic specialist whose book, “Structure of Iki” is well-known in France. One of the texts considered for translation is Odoroki no jō to gūzensei, an article from 1939 which offers interesting insights on the evolution of Kuki’s thinking at the end of his life. 
The group, which French experts and PhD applicants from Inalco or outside,, organizes five to six conferences annually. Each year, confirmed researchers and doctorates are invited, as well as one or two foreign researchers. The group expects to participate in multiple national and international conferences.