Bachelor Japanists

Japanese Aesthetics and Western Masculinities

Christopher Reed

Columbia University Press

Bachelor Japanists

Google Preview

Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231175753

440 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $35.00£27.95

Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231175746

440 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£87.95

Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231542760

440 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.95

Bachelor Japanists

Japanese Aesthetics and Western Masculinities

Christopher Reed

Columbia University Press

Challenging clichés of Japanism as a feminine taste, Bachelor Japanists argues that Japanese aesthetics were central to contests over the meanings of masculinity in the West. Christopher Reed draws attention to the queerness of Japanist communities of writers, collectors, curators, and artists in the tumultuous century between the 1860s and the 1960s.

Reed combines extensive archival research; analysis of art, architecture, and literature; the insights of queer theory; and an appreciation of irony to explore the East-West encounter through three revealing artistic milieus: the Goncourt brothers and other japonistes of late-nineteenth-century Paris; collectors and curators in turn-of-the-century Boston; and the mid-twentieth-century circles of artists associated with Seattle's Mark Tobey. The result is a groundbreaking integration of well-known and forgotten episodes and personalities that illuminates how Japanese aesthetics were used to challenge Western gender conventions. These disruptive effects are sustained in Reed's analysis, which undermines conventional scholarly investments in the heroism of avant-garde accomplishment and ideals of cultural authenticity.
In this ground-breaking work, Reed brings eloquence, intellectual rigor, and trenchant insights to a revisionist interpretation of Japanism from its early manifestations in the circles of Edmond de Goncourt and William Bigelow in nineteenth-century Paris and Boston to its post-war reinterpretations in the work of Seattle artist Mark Tobey. Bachelor Japanists brilliantly illuminates the criticality of homosocial networks and subversion of heteronormative sexuality to the diffusion of Japanism. Christine Guth, author of Longfellow's Tattoos: Tourism, Collecting, and Japan
Chris Reed's Bachelor Japanists extols the often eccentric routes that non-conformists took to escape bourgeois strictures around home and family. Mapping the homoerotic pleasures attendant upon the discovery of the Far East by the West, Reed finds that sexual difference was enabled by geographic distance and cultural (mis)translation. Never before has queer theory been brought to bear this powerfully on the Western fantasy of Japan, and vice versa, than in the three case studies—1870/80s Paris, Boston around 1900, and Seattle at mid-century—of Reed's immanently readable and now indispensible book. André Dombrowski, University of Pennsylvania
Christopher Reed's luminous study offers a crucial and timely reappraisal of the Orientalism thesis. Reed shows that the early twentieth-century fascination with Japan was as a social as well as an aesthetic phenomenon. The intellectuals, curators, and makers whom Reed calls 'bachelor Japanists' challenged ideas of the West and the West's relationship to and distinctness from the East. Imagining Japan created new opportunities for fantasy, visuality, social domesticity, and collaboration. Not only an occasion for a new kind of art, Japan became an occasion for a new kind of living. Rebecca Walkowitz, Rutgers University
Bachelor Japanists is about the queer power of the foreign, the hypo-primitive, and the hyper-civilized to unmake and remake what we think of as the self, and as the state. Beautifully written and generously, incisively critical, this is a book that not only teaches you what to think; it teaches you how to think. Eric Hayot, Penn State
Meticulously researched and eloquently written, Bachelor Japanists brings the values of queer theory to bear on both its objects of study and the writing of art history. Focusing on how diverse japonismes provided opportunities to unlearn the West, Reed's immediately important book reconstructs and illuminates the sometimes outrageous, sometimes slyly implicit "structures of dissent" they inspired and facilitated: alternative forms of beauty, collecting, domesticity, and belonging. Christopher Bush, Northwestern University
A Note on Names and Terms
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Originating Japanism: Fin-de-Siècle Paris
2. Bachelor Brahmins: Turn-of-the-Century Boston
3. Sublimation and Eccentricity in the Art of Mark Tobey: Seattle at Midcentury
Conclusion: On the End of Japanism
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Read the introduction:

About the Author

Christopher Reed is professor of English and visual culture at the Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of many books, including Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas (2011) and Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, and Domesticity (2004).