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Dr Eric Rath (University of Michigan)
Early modern (1600-1868) Japan witnessed the rise of food as a subject of entertainment media as exemplified by numerous literary and visual depictions of culinary contests in which pedants debated the virtues of rice or tea; strong men (and women) measured their endurance in the number of bowls of noodles or cups of sake they could swallow; and posters ranked seafood recipes against vegetarian dishes. Visual and literary artists even helped audiences imagine what would happen if food or drinks came alive and debated and battled each other. Early modern media proved that food and beverages were not mundane objects, but instead had lives of their own, which were poetic, heroic, and potentially precarious.
Eric C. Rath is the Toyota Visiting Professor at the Center for Japanese Studies in the University of Michigan and professor of premodern Japanese history at the University of Kansas. A specialist in Japanese cultural history, especially Japanese foodways, his publications include Japan’s Cuisines: Food, Place, and Identity (2016) and Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan (2010).
Open to all. No registration required
Part of Imaginative Things: Curious Objects 1400-2000 Seminar series.
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