Conference announcement/Call for Papers: Loveable Losers: The Taira in Action and Memory

Please see the announcement below for an upcoming conference that we hope will generate new and exciting insights into both premodern Japan and perceptions of it. A fuller description, including presenters and topics, is available at .

Please note that we are additionally inviting junior scholars and graduate students to submit proposals to join us for an additional session.

“Loveable Losers: The Taira in Action and Memory”

Students, scholars and anyone interested in Japanese culture are invited to attend an inter-disciplinary conference, sponsored in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, which will feature presentations by fourteen scholars and five respondents from the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe.  We are also inviting junior scholars to give presentations (see Call for Papers below).

Place:      Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, Canada

Date:       August 13-15, 2011

Description:  History records that the Taira were soundly defeated by the Minamoto in the Genpei War of the twelfth century. Yet even as the Minamoto went on to establish Japan’s first warrior government, the Taira, losers in the war, came to be celebrated in numerous literary and artistic works.  The conventional narrative of the Taira as successful imitators of court culture but unsuccessful innovators in the political and economic spheres has long been sustained by a scholarly tendency to confine inquiries to traditional academic divisions, while overarching treatments have been woefully lacking. This conference will bridge disciplinary divides and question the cultural stereotypes of the Taira, as scholars from different discipline–including history, literature, religion, and art history–examine the Taira from a variety of perspectives. It is our hope that by transcending disciplinary boundaries the conference will yield a far richer understanding of the Taira as both agents in their own time and cultural heroes in later ages, and will illuminate the construction and social roles of cultural icons in general.

The conference is a collective effort organized by Mikael Adolphson, Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta, Anne Commons, Associate Professor of Japanese Literature at the University of Alberta, and Joshua Mostow, Professor of Japanese Literature at the University of British Columbia.

Registration:  Pre-registration for attendees is required by July 15. Please send your name, institutional affiliation (if available), mailing address (department or home), email contact, and intended dates of attendance so that we can assist you in making arrangements to Anne Commons at .  Please specify “Taira Conference Registration” in the subject line.

Call for Papers:  In addition to the presentations by invited speakers, we invite presentation proposals in any discipline on the Taira or related topics from any era by junior scholars, including graduate students. Financial support for accepted presenters may be available pending final approval of conference funding. Applicants should submit a 250-word abstract, along with their name, email address and institutional affiliation, to Mikael Adolphson at by May 15. Presentations are expected to be approximately twenty minutes long.

Inquiries:  Please direct enquiries to either Mikael Adolphson ( ) or Anne Commons ( ).  Further information may be found on our conference website at

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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