Book launch

Tuesday 13 May 2014
6:00pm – 7:00pm

Zen-Life: Ikkyū and Beyond

Drinks reception from 7:00pm

13/14 Cornwall Terrace, Outer Circle, London NW1 4QP

Organised by The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

By Evgeny Steiner

Published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing

This book examines the Japanese culture of the Muromachi epoch (14-16 centuries) with Ikkyū Sōjun (1394-1481), a celebrated monk and poet, as its focal point. Ikkyū’s contribution to the culture of his time was all-embracing and unique. He can be called the embodiment of his era, given that all the features typical for the Japanese culture of the High Middle Ages were concentrated in his personality. This multidisciplinary study of Ikkyū’s artistic, religious, and philosophical heritage reconstructs his creative mentality and his way of life. The aesthetics and art of Ikkyū are shown against a broad historical background. Much emphasis is given to Ikkyū’s interpretation of Zen. The book discusses in great detail Ikkyū’s religious and ethical principles, as well as his attitude towards sex, and shows that his rebellious and iconoclastic ways were deeply embedded in the tradition. The book pulls together materials from cultural and religious history with literary and visual artistic texts, and offers a multifaceted view on Ikkyū, as well as on the cultural life of the Muromachi period. This approach ensures that the book will be interesting for art historians, historians of literature and religion, and specialists in cultural and visual studies.

About the contributors

Professor Evgeny Steiner

Professor Evgeny Steiner received his PhD from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences, Moscow. Since the early 1990s, he has taught and conducted research in the field of Japanese and Russian cultural studies at universities in Jerusalem, Tokyo, New York and Manchester. In 2007-09, he was a Senior Research Associate at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. Since 2008 he is a Professorial Research Associate at the Japan Research Centre, SOAS, and has been a Professor of the National Research University ‘Higher School of Economics’ (Moscow) since 2012. He is a recipient of numerous fellowships and grants from institutions such as Pew Trust (USA), Leverhulme Trust (UK), Wingate Scholars (UK), NEH (USA), and Japan Foundation (Japan). He published about ten books including Stories for Little Comrades:  Revolutionary Artists in the Early Soviet Children’s Book; Japanese Prints in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (as editor), Vols. 1-2; a translation of, and introduction to,Victory over the Sun; and Orientalism/Occidentalism: Languages of Culture vs. Languages of Description. He currently shares his time between Moscow, London and Paris.

Professor Timon Screech

Professor Timon Screech is Professor of the History of Art and Head of the School of Arts at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He received his BA from the University of Oxford and after completing his PhD in Art History at Harvard, joined SOAS in 1991, where he was elected to a Chair in 2006. Concurrently, he is Permanent Visiting Professor at Tama Art University, Tokyo. He has published some dozen books on Edo visual culture, including The Lens Within the Heart: The Western Scientific Gaze and Popular Imagery in Later Edo (University of Hawaii Press, 2002), and Obtaining Images: Art, Production and Display in Edo Japan (University of Hawaii Press, 2012). Screech is currently working on the history of a ship of the English East India Company which left for Japan in 1615, and will be entitled The Cargo of the “New Year’s Gift”.

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