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Seeds in the Heart and Leaves of Words: Traditional Japanese Poetry Beyond the Haiku new
JF/BAJS Japanese Studies Postgraduate Workshop 2024 new

Seeds in the Heart and Leaves of Words: Traditional Japanese Poetry Beyond the Haiku   org


About this Event

Poetry has been a part of Japanese life for more than a millennium, with the first major anthology of waka - poems in Japanese - compiled in the late eighth century. Later, it was to become an essential part of life for the aristocrats of the new capital city of Heian-kyō - modern Kyoto - and through their production and patronage exert a profound influence on almost all aspects of Japan’s cultural life, as warlords, warriors and merchants sought the social status and approval that came with the composition of poetry. Images from waka were used in painting, on clothing, and utensils of various kinds. Waka topics influenced which plants and animals were cherished, and which were not and subtly shaped Japan’s ideas of itself as a nation and people. Indeed, the influence of waka has been so pervasive and enduring that it’s possible to say without an understanding of waka, you don’t really understand Japan.

This lecture will trace the development of waka from its early beginnings as a tool for communication and social relationships among the elite nobility, through its role in providing a ritual underpinning to the aristocratic state, and its development into an arena of critical and literary conflict between factions determined to maintain and promote their views of appropriate poetic style, leading eventually to the development of new poetic form such as the haiku. It will reveal how and why waka thrived, and how its topics and the emotions associated with them came to express many of the attitudes which are considered quintessentially Japanese.


About the Speaker

Dr Thomas McAuley is a Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Sheffield, and an expert on premodern Japanese poetry and culture. Among his publications is the complete translation and commentary of Roppyakuban uta’awase (‘Poetry Contest in Six Hundred Rounds’; 1193-94), one of the most significant poetic and critical texts of the period.

An experienced translator, he regularly posts new translations of premodern Japanese poetry on his website,

Among his current projects are studies of premodern critics’ attitudes to the inclusion of Chinese-influenced material in waka poetry  and the impact of poets’ gender on their compositional practice.


To register for this event, click here.


Date: 7 December 2023 from 6.30pm

Japan House London, 101-111 Kensington High St, London W8 5SA London W8 5SA

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JF/BAJS Japanese Studies Postgraduate Workshop 2024   org
Date: Friday 2nd February, 2024
Venue: University of Sheffield, exact location TBA
The JF/BAJS Japanese Studies PhD Workshop returns in 2024, this year with the theme Life After Your PhD!
We have listened to requests from previous years that one thing postgraduate students would like to learn more about is career options after submitting their PhDs.
After listening to student presentations and receiving individual specialist feedback from your peers and experienced academics, attendees will get the opportunity to listen to lectures about post-PhD life, with a Q&A with a panel to answer some of your burning questions on the theme.
The event is a great chance for postgraduate students to network with each other and the assembled academics, as well as a place to discuss future collaborations.
As in previous years, you will also hear about relevant funding opportunities for Japanese Studies students from organisations in attendance who will deliver short presentations on how they can offer support.
Student Submissions: As an essential part of the workshop, attendees will be asked to present their research in small groups, during the morning session. Mara Patessio at will contact all attendees with more information about presentations after the registration deadline.
Travel Grants: The Japan Foundation is able to offer a partial travel grant of £70 per attendee after attendees have covered the first £20 of their fare. The British Association for Japanese Studies is able to offer £100 per attendee towards the cost of accommodation.*

*Grants available for UK-based students only

Please note, attendance to this event is limited to 40 attendees, on a first come, first served basis. As the number of participants is limited, please only register if you know you can make it.
PhD students will be prioritised, with MA students joining a waitlist.
Deadline for registration for all students is Friday 5th January, 2024.
If you have any questions, please contact

To book your spot, click here.


Date: 2 February 2024
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