Please tell us about your research project.
My research brings together literary and visual studies to reframe the history of modern Japanese literature from a comparative media perspective. My doctoral dissertation explores new kinds of visual aesthetics in the fictions of Natsume Sôseki (1905–1916), an emblematic figure of Meiji Japan. My aim is to shine light into painterly, photographic and even cinematographic ways of seeing in his texts, and in the process to understand better how he produced some of the most innovative works of twentieth century Japanese literature. My research interests include cross-cultural aesthetics (English and Japanese). As a critic of English literature, Sôseki was sent to study in London between 1900 and 1902 and was deeply impacted by its visual culture of modernity.
Could you please tell us a bit more about your scholarship programme?
I started my PhD in 2016 at the University of Paris. I first stayed in Tokyo to pursue my work but upon my return in France, I applied for a one-month stay scholarship at the MFO with the support of my research director and a friend who did his postdoc in Oxford. I was delighted to be received in November 2019 as a temporary guest, which means I was granted access to the Bodleian libraries. I was also welcomed at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, which is just across the street of the MFO.
First impressions of Oxford/the University?
I don’t want to paraphrase the guidebooks, but Oxford is a singular place of knowledge and culture. The University is the heart of the whole city which is green, quiet, literary and full of grey squirrels. The libraries look like sanctuaries and the bookshops are full of hidden gems. It is easy to understand why so many well-inspired thinkers and writers are originated from Oxford.