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Master of Arts (M.A.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
In the late 18th century an artist named Torii Kiyotsune 鳥居清経inherited and mastered a style of ukiyo-e that was soon to go out of fashion. Few of his prints survived and he left little impression on Japanese art history, despite his association with such a prominent school as the Torii. Yet the very association may have contributed to his obscurity. The assumption that Kiyotsune was primarily an ukiyo-e artist led to the overshadowing of his work in another arena, popular books known as kusazōshi. In fact he was quite prolific in that medium, illustrating over 130 kibyōshi, as well as works in other genres. Analysis of one of his kibyōshi, Kaminari no hesokuigane 雷之臍喰金, shows that there is still much to be learned about him and his contributions to early modern Japanese visual culture.
Through an analysis of Kaminari no hesokuigane this thesis also explores the unique set of characteristics that distinguishes kibyôshi from other forms of visual-verbal narratives such as comics or illustrated books. Moreover it argues that, despite their having served as cheap, disposable fiction in their time, kibyōshi can serve as an informative lens through which to examine how the ordinary inhabitants of Edo identified with their city, creating a culture of their own and developing the Edokko type that has survived into the modern era.
Stephen M Forrest