Book Announcement: The Premise of Fidelity: Science, Visuality, and Representing the Real in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Maki Fukuoka
Stanford University Press, August 2012.
304 pp. (39 illustrations)
ISBN: 9780804777902
Cloth $45
ISBN: 9780804784627
E-book $45.00

The Premise of Fidelity puts forward a new history of Japanese visuality through an examination of the discourses and practices surrounding the nineteenth century transposition of “the real” in the decades before photography was introduced. This intellectual history is informed by a careful examination of a network of local scholars-from physicians to farmers to bureaucrats-known as Shohyaku-sha. In their archival materials, these scholars used the term shashin (which would, years later, come to signify “photography” in Japanese) in a wide variety of medical, botanical, and pictorial practices. These scholars pursued questions of the relationship between what they observed and what they believed they knew, in the process investigating scientific ideas and practices by obsessively naming and classifying, and then rendering through highly accurate illustration, the objects of their study.

This book is an exploration of the process by which the Shohyaku-sha shaped the concept of shashin. As such, it disrupts the dominant narratives of photography, art, and science in Japan, providing a prehistory of Japanese photography that requires the accepted history of the discipline to be rewritten.

Further information online: http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=20941

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
This entry was posted in announcements, culture and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s