Neo-Confucian Sermons as Popular Emotional Education in Eighteenth-Century Japan: The Moral and Pedagogical Philosophy of Hosoi Heishū


Thursday 24 January 2019, 5.00PM

Speaker(s): Makoto Harris Takao (Max-Planck-institut fur Bildungsforschung/Centre for the History of Emotions, Berlin)

CREMS Research Seminar

This paper engages with the growing literature on the nexus of religion and emotion, thinking through the ways in which historians of Japan can make interventions in the field, and exploring research methodologies that speak to a pre-modern and non-Abrahamic milieu. In looking to the moral and pedagogical philosophy of Hosoi Heishū (1728–1801), a Neo-Confucian teacher and itinerant preacher, this paper encourages a rethinking of the concept of religion as a universal constant, placing emphasis on the use of contextualised and historically-specific emic categories of belief and feeling. To do so, it will explore the popularising movement of Neo-Confucian eclecticism in the late eighteenth century, tracing Hosoi’s development of a syncretic genre of vernacular sermons and his identification of emotion as a subject and object of instruction. His rhetorical style and pedagogy will be unpacked, followed by an analysis of his popular reception, before turning to a sermon case study to observe these ideas in action. This paper offers new insights into the viewing habits and emotional expectations of late Tokugawa audiences, underscoring the ways in which emotion terms and concepts can change meaning in how they are defined, embodied, expressed, and valued as part of a broader habitus.

Makoto works variously on intercultural relations between Japan, Europe, and America in the early modern and modern eras. With an interdisciplinary focus, his research spans cultural studies, ethno/musicology, and conceptual history in the study of religion and emotion. His forthcoming book — Of Mission and Music: Japanese Christianity and its Reflection in Early Modern Europe — explores artistic exchange between Jesuit missionaries and Japanese communities in the sixteenth century and how these exchanges were represented in the music and theater of early modern Catholic Europe. As a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Berlin), he is currently conducting an ethnographic study of how music communities in Japan are navigating problematic notions of patriotism and nationalism in the performance of war songs composed during the years of the Japanese Empire (1868–1947).

Location: BS/008 Berrick Saul Building

Admission: All Welcome