Speaker: Anna-Rose Shack (University of Amsterdam)

Classical Japanese poetry, such as that found in anthologies like the Manyoshu (c.759AD, takes its inspiration from nature. The natural world, in turn, provides a visual manifestation of the emotional landscape of the speaker. The interrelation between nature, gardens and emotions developed during the Heian period (794-1185AD), with literary gardens often featuring in Japanese texts as spaces of longing, encounter and desire. In global contemporary fiction, the Japanese garden continues to provide a setting that facilitates the psychological development of characters. In this lecture, I will provide an introduction to the Japanese garden in world literature, offering the audience an insight into the way in which these gardens function as poetic and imaginative landscapes. I suggest that Japanese gardens translate well into literary texts as they themselves are fundamentally imaginative spaces that deploy narrative techniques such as metaphor, symbolism, allusion and framing to invite a plurality of readings. 

Anna-Rose Shack is currently a PhD student at the University of Amsterdam working on languages of vulnerability in early modern English women's poetry. However, she has a side research interest in Japanese gardens. In 2020, she co-organised the Durham Medieval and Early Modern Student Association Community Course on medieval and early modern gardens. Her own lecture was on Heian era Japanese gardens. Soon after she was invited by the friends of the Oriental Museum in Durham to deliver a guest lecture. This paper approaches Japanese gardens from her perspective as a literary scholar. It  is a topic she is researching with a view to publication. 

IHR Seminar SeriesHistory of Gardens and Landscapes