Kyoto Lectures

Kyoto conserva ancora oggi la sua antica tradizione di cultura come uno dei maggiori centri accademici del Giappone e luogo di incontro per gli studiosi di tutto il mondo. Organizzate in collaborazione con la Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient e il Center for Research in Humanities dell’Università Statale di Kyoto, le Kyoto Lectures offrono agli specialisti delle culture e società dell’Asia Orientale la possibilità di presentare a Kyoto i risultati delle ricerche in corso.
The Stolen Robe

Kyoto Lectures

The Stolen Robe

Copyright and its Metaphors in Medieval Japanese Poetry

Pier Carlo Tommasi

May 9th, 2023 18:00

This lecture will be available only on Zoom

Authorship and creativity are elusive concepts, and so are the metaphors and analogies that premodern poets used to claim ownership of their work. This presentation dives into waka theory and practice from the late twelfth to the early sixteenth century to trace the emergence and development of a “copyright” discourse in medieval Japan.

From the close reading of poetic texts, a new profile comes to light which compels us to redefine the author (sakusha) as a self-effacing presence, yet one solidly emplaced in the socio-epistemological grid of its times. This conundrum unfurls as potentially critical when it comes to “poetic theft,” a crime that medieval commentators would leverage to discredit their rivals and, by contrast, empower their professional status. By examining the rhetorical strategies they used to protect themselves and their intellectual property, we will be able to grasp the stakes of literary practice and catch a glimpse of the poets’ lived experience.


Pier Carlo Tommasi received his Ph.D. from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy, in 2019. Currently, he is Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. His research interests include classical Japanese poetry, selfhood and agency in premodern Japan, samurai culture, medievalism, and Sinosphere studies. His most recent article, entitled “Neither Plagiarism nor Patchwork: The Culture of Citation and the Making of Authorship in Medieval Japanese Poetry,” appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of Monumenta Nipponica.


Zoom meeting ID: 875 5721 9118

The meeting link will remain posted on the ISEAS website top page from may 7.