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Ariadne in Bordeaux: Unraveling the Ties that Bind in Tawada Y?ko's ???? ???/Schwager in Bordeaux

Ariadne in Bordeaux: Unraveling the Ties that Bind in Tawada Y?ko's ???? ???/Schwager in Bordeaux
130 St. George Street, Robarts Library, 14th floor
Time: Dec 1st, 4:00 pm End: Dec 1st, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: East Asian Studies (FAS), 2000-
Talk by Brett de Bary, Cornell

The Department of East Asian Studies is pleased to announce a TALK by

Professor Brett de Bary, Cornell University

Ariadne in Bordeaux: Unraveling the Ties that Bind in Tawada Y?ko's ???? ???/Schwager in Bordeaux

Thursday, December 1 4-6 pm
EAS Purple Lounge

Abstract: If Tawada Y?ko's many works can each be regarded as discrete, although interconnected, writing experiments, then it is the presence and placement of kanji or "Chinese characters" within the German and Japanese texts (both written by Tawada) that is a striking feature of Borud? no gikei/ Schwager in Bordeaux. Published first in 2008, the German language text written by Tawada contains 276 characters as headings or "titles" for component sections of varying lengths. Tawada's Japanese text, published in the following year, contains a similar layout, although in this book, which reads from left to right, the kanji that appears at the heading of each section is printed as a mirror image of itself. Can we take at face value, and as a kind of "key" to this compositional structure, the narrator/protagonist's depiction of the notebook she keeps, full of Chinese characters? "I'd like to record everything that happens, but multiple events are always occurring at the same time... So I enter one character for each of them, rather than writing in sentences. By unraveling a single kanji, you can make up a long story."

This paper considers several examples of how Tawada unravels ("disentangles") or decomposes the Chinese character, weaving its elements into a narrative, in this novel. In so doing, however, Tawada slyly reveals a more fundamental entanglement of visual and verbal/sonic in the so-called "ideograph," subverting the Orientalist assumption that the Chinese character itself is a sign of visuality and the Asian other. The unraveling of kanji, moreover, provide a means for critically examining other forms of contemporary relationally "(ties that bind") in the novel, be they those of gender, nationality, or global commodity exchange.

This event is free and open to all. Regiatration is not required. For further information, please contact the Department of East Asian Studies at 416-946-3625

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