Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

History of Art

First Advisor

Julie N. Davis

Abstract

Ever since European and American collectors first saw Katsushika Hokusai’s print Under The Great Wave off Kanagawa in the late nineteenth century, Japanese landscape prints have captured modern imaginations. However, the popularity of these landscapes has obscured a longer history of images of place and space in later Edo print culture. These works imagined new spaces—from the play lands of the city to myriad countries of the newly mapped world to even far away fictional shores. The products of a burgeoning commercial print market, these mass-produced works were part of a sophisticated urban culture. Focusing on an especially rich period in the expansion of the publishing market from the 1770s to the early 1800s this dissertation looks at a diverse group of printed materials, examining the different ways in which print culture approached “place” in the later Edo period.

Through four case studies, this dissertation expands beyond “landscape prints” to take a broader view of the production and representation of place in Edo print culture. The first chapter analyzes how the uki-e 浮絵 (perspective prints) of Utagawa Toyoharu promoted a larger fantasy of Edo as a commercial playground; a view supported by the commercial stakeholders of both the businesses depicted and the prints’ publishing firm. The second chapter investigates how the bird’s-eye views of Kitao Masayoshi developed out of an diverse group of prints, maps, and printed books of famed landscapes, whose popularity pushed publishers and their artists to continue developing new and unusual images of these places. The third chapter traces the development of the imaginary kobito 小人 (Little People), and their fictional homeland in in maps, encyclopedias, and popular illustrated fiction. The final chapter turns to privately commissioned daishō egoyomi 大小絵暦 (long-short picture calendars) maps and the wider influence of cartography on popular culture. Through these case studies, this study contextualizes the landscape print within a broader category of print culture. Together these materials participated in a discourse that imagined geography and topography in new ways and as part of a changing world. For sophisticated Edo consumers, print culture produced place.

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