School of Culture, Media and SocietyWaseda University


【TGU Global Japanese Studies】 International Symposium: Rethinking the “Author” as an Agent of Cultural Production

Barthes, R. (1968). The Death of the Author. (R. Howard, trans.). [online] The Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. Available at: [Accessed 2 Aug. 2016].

Barthes, R. (1968). The Death of the Author. (R. Howard, trans.). [online] The Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. Available at: [Accessed 2 Aug. 2016].

It has been more than half a century since the French literary critic and theorist, Roland Barthes, presented the essay “The Death of the Author” (1968). This literary theory, which places emphasis on the text and its readers while removing the author’s personal context, influenced the study of literature, especially modern literature.

To question the concept of present-day authorship and author function, scholars must reconsider how cultural texts have been created and recreated under dynamic circumstances of both the agent of cultural production and the recipient’s varying affiliated organizations, network media, and social environment. They must also examine reciprocal relationships among ranging genres and media (manuscripts, calligraphy, woodblock, typography, paintings, sculpture, architecture, performing arts, music, theater, photography, film, manga, animation, digital text, internet social media, etc.) and compare authorship in Japan to those of ancient to modern East Asia as well as Western counterparts.

As a step to reestablish the foundation of literature and humanities research and expand investigation on the past, present, and future of cultural production and its consumption, the Global Japanese Studies model unit of Waseda University Top Global University Project, the Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University co-hosted the Global Japanese Studies International Symposium “Rethinking the as an Agent of Cultural Production” on July 26. Over 100 researchers, faculty members, students and others attended the symposium, which started with opening remarks from the model unit leader of the Global Japanese Studies, Professor Hirokazu Toeda of Waseda University, and Professor Tomi Suzuki of Columbia University.

The symposium consisted of four lectures, and the presenters shared their perspectives on the roles of authors in art, theatre, and literary works. After the lectures, the moderators led active discussions among presenters and participants. The four-hour symposium ended successfully with Professor Haruo Shirane of Columbia University and Professor Sungsi Lee of Waseda University, the director of the Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture, giving closing remarks.



Shigemi INAGA (Professor, International Research Center for Japanese Studies)
“Seals and Repetitions: Representations of World Art and Artists in the Works of Yasumasa Morimura and Handwriting and History in Kyuyo Ishikawa’s History of Chinese Calligraphy”

Masatsugu ONO (Professor, Rikkyo University)
“The Powerless Author”

Ryuichi KODAMA (Professor, Waseda University)
“Who Creates Theater? Kabuki as a Theatrical Art in which the Actors are the Directors”

Kazuaki KOMINE (Professor Emeritus, Rikkyo University and Visiting Senior Researcher, Waseda University)
“Forgeries and Traditions Concerning Authors in Medieval Japan”


Hiroshi ARAKI (Professor, International Research Center for Japanese Studies)
Toshiyuki SUZUKI (Professor, Chuo University)
Akira TAKAGISHI (Associate Professor, the University of Tokyo)
Keiko NAKAMACHI (Professor, Jissen Women’s University)
Yasuaki WATANABE (Professor, the University of Tokyo)


Tomoyuki Masuda (Professor, Waseda University)
Natsuko Ozaki (Guest Researcher, Waseda University)
Hidenori Jinno (Professor, Waseda University)
Misa Umetada (Assistant Professor, Waseda University)1

Planning and administration:

Haruo SHIRANE (Professor, Columbia University)
Tomi SUZUKI (Professor, Columbia University)
Sungsi LEE (Professor, Waseda University)
Hirokazu TOEDA (Professor, Waseda University)

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