My dissertation “Sites of Wonder, Signs of Sin: Defining Illness and Disability in Early-Medieval Japanese Visual Culture,” is a trans-disciplinary exploration of ailments in Japanese visual culture from the late-twelfth to fourteenth century.
Through detailed visual analysis of representations of illness, disability, and deformity in emaki (illustrated handscrolls), I highlight the format’s significance in transmitting and shaping socio-cultural concerns about the body. I also examine popular literature, medical treatises, and religious practices to elucidate various understandings of afflictions within my project’s historical parameters. Beginning in August 2016, I will conduct research in Japan under the guidance of Sano Midori at Gakushuin University.
My research will include first-hand examination of primary materials at museums and archives, building a thorough bibliography, and gaining in-depth cultural knowledge.