Press releases


May 29 2019

International symposium at Goethe-University analyses contemporary literature and how it diagnoses the times

Japan between 1989 and 2019

FRANKFURT. A symposium entitled “Texts of the Heisei Era – Readings of Contemporary Japanese Literature" organised by Japanese Studies at Goethe University will take place on 6 and 7 June 2019. Academics from Japan, the USA, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany will speak at the event, including Victoria Young from the University of Cambridge, Yoshio Hitomi from the School of Culture, Media and Society, Waseda University Tôkyô, American lyrics researcher Jeffrey Angles and renowned Japan expert Michiko Mae from Düsseldorf. A younger generation of researchers whose focus is on literature will also take part. 

The turn of eras in Japan gave rise to the conference. Contemporary Japanese literature, the “Literature of the Heisei Era" (Heisei bungaku), beginning in 1989 with the death of Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989) and the end of the Shôwa era, developed over three decades until the abdication of the Heisei-Emperor Akihito on 30 April 2019, when it entered the realm of historicity. The current governmental maxim under Emperor Naruhito is “Reiwa". The time is therefore opportune to consider the authors, texts and trends of the past era and formulate initial insights and hypotheses. 

Building on research already carried out at Goethe University, central issues will be discussed in dialogue with different scientific traditions, beginning with the question of what is understood by “literature" during the years between 1989 and 2019, in which a transition of the national literature “system" (kokubungaku) took place on various levels. Together, the question of determining a canon for Heisei literature can be discussed, along with which literary issues should be taken up by Japanese studies experts, and which writers are likely to shape the literary future in the Reiwa era. 

Symposium “Texts of the Heisei Era – Readings of Contemporary Japanese Literature“
6 Juni 2019, 15:30 Uhr: Westend Campus, Eisenhower Room
7 Juni 2019, 9:30-20:00 Uhr: Bockenheim Campus, Room Jur 717

Organisation: Prof. Dr. Lisette Gebhardt/Christian Chappelow M.A./ Damian David Jungmann (Japan Studies, Goethe-Universität) 

The event is open to the public; registration at would be appreciated