The presence of images in works produced in Japan during the Edo period is a well-known fact. It was precisely these images that attracted the attention of the few Western observers present in the archipelago during this period, and illustrated works with a didactic purpose (encyclopaedias, maps, etc.) and/or dealing with ‘technical’ subjects, occupied an important place among the first collections of Japanese books brought back to Europe.
The presence of the image alongside the text is evidence of the coexistence of different ways of transmitting information within the book. Many questions can be risen: Does the text stand on its own? What is the role of the image in the page, the double page or even the book as a whole? How do the text and the image complete each other? Do images obey to certain visual codes, and if so, which ones?
The aim of this project is to provide a framework for several working groups to examine the status of images in books from a variety of angles. The ‘image’ analysed could be, depending on the case, an ‘illustration’ – a notion that is itself open to questioning – or diagrams and charts accompanying the text. By considering all the dimensions of the book ‘ecosystem’, we will also be looking at the general structure of books and the way in which textual and visual devices contribute to the transmission of knowledge.
Area 1: images and diagrams (e, zu 絵・図) in educational books
This subgroup brings together projects or workshops aimed at investigating the place of images/illustrations and figures or diagrams in Japanese books, limiting the investigation to ‘encyclopedic’ works (general or thematic) with a didactic aim, intended for ‘amateurs’ belonging to the new affluent classes in town and country. Various fields will be considered, from the art of tea (chafu, chasho) to architecture/carpentry, and including treatises on natural history (honzō, bussan) and medicine. We will be relying in particular, but not exclusively, on works from the Castillon collection held in the library of the Institut des Hautes Études Japonaises at the Collège de France, which is currently being digitized.
Area 2: Lexicon and procedures in technical texts
This subgroup will provide the basis for a monthly seminar during which several monographs relating to different practical (medicine/pharmacopoeia, divination, mathematics, military engineering, agriculture), artisanal (architecture, painting, cooking), or cultural (art of tea, nô etc.) disciplines, produced between the 16th and 19th centuries, will be studied in depth. Particular attention will be paid to the material organisation of the works (prefaces, indexes, tables, size and format), as well as to the specific vocabulary used in the fields in question, and the way in which procedures are described.
Theme 3: Stories of bubbles
The speech bubble (fukidashi) is a graphic element to which we pay little attention. Defined by the Trésor de la langue française as « the curve surrounding the words spoken by comic strip characters », its function would be to visually define a space for textual elements. However, in many works from the Edo period (fiction books for adults or children, prints, paintings), the speech bubble often contains images, while the text is spread across the page, outside the speech bubble.
This subgroup aims to take a firm grasp of the speech bubble and turn it into an object of knowledge, both in terms of its own characteristics and its visual and wider cultural ecosystem. The goal is to analyze the form and function of the bubble in various works from different periods, in an attempt to ultimately identify an “economy of the bubble“, or even sketch out a general theory of it.
speech bubbles diagrams illustrations technical vocabulary instructional texts
Matthias Hayek (École Pratique des Hautes Études)
Annick Horiuchi 堀内アニック・美都 (Université Paris Cité)
Marianne Simon-Oikawa (Université Paris Cité)
Ken Daimaru (Université Paris Cité)
Nicolas Fiévé (École Pratique des Hautes Études)
Dimitri Tatoyan (CNRS)
Chizuru Kitai (École Pratique des Hautes Études)
Jean Grandclément (École Pratique des Hautes Études)
Sophie Le Berre (Université Paris Cité)
Céline Pisseloup (École Pratique des Hautes Études)
Thomas Swierzinski (Paris Est Sup)
Céline Zuretti (Université Paris Cité)
Christophe Marquet (IFRAE)