Trespasses presents key writings of the Tokyo-born literary scholar Masao Miyoshi, one of the most important postwar intellectuals to link culture with politics and a remarkable critical voice within the academy. For more than four decades, Miyoshi worked outside the mainstream, trespassing into new fields, making previously unseen connections, and upending naive assumptions. With an impeccable sense of when a topic or discussion had lost its critical momentum, he moved on to the next question, and then the next after that, taking on matters of literary form, cross-cultural relations, globalization, art and architecture, the corporatization of the university, and the threat of ecological disaster. Trespasses reveals the tremendous range of Miyoshi’s thought and interests, shows how his thinking transformed over time, and highlights his recurring concerns.
This volume brings together eleven selections of Miyoshi’s previously published writing, a major new essay, a critical introduction to his life and work, and an interview in which Miyoshi reflects on the trajectory of his thought and the institutional history of modern Japan studies. In the new essay, “Literary Elaborations,” he provides a masterful overview of the nature of the contemporary university, closing with a call for a global environmental protection studies that would radically reconfigure academic disciplines and merge the hard sciences with the humanities and the social sciences. In the other, chronologically arranged selections, Miyoshi addresses cross-culture relations between Japan and the United States, English literary studies in Japan, and Japan studies in the U.S., as well as the organization of urban space and the integrity of art and architecture in aggressively marketed-oriented environments. Trespasses is an invaluable introduction to the work of a fearless cultural critic.
“Radical art, the commercialization of the university, the nation-state, Japan and the West, cultural studies, subjectivity and pronouns, ecology, the state of things from Korea to the Mexican border, or from Cardinal Newman to documenta X—such are the seemingly heterogeneous materials united by a commitment to an implacable unification of the aesthetic and the political, of attention to art and attention to globalization, which Miyoshi’s lifework holds out for us like an ideal.”
—Fredric Jameson, from the foreword
“The great range and scope of the texts complied in this anthology and the clarity and urgency of voice and vision which characterizes Miyoshi’s critique will indubitably bring his ideas and concerns to a wider audience.”
—Bastian Balthazar Becker, Social Text
“There is much food for thought here and Miyoshi, always searching and provocative, asks the right questions.”
—David Burleigh, Japan Times
“[T]here is no denying that Masao Miyoshi’s Trespasses is a challenging yet deeply engaging collection of the writings from a major figure in Japanese studies (and one of its most outspoken critics), who could not be hemmed in by disciplinary fences. It proves that he still has much to teach those of us who walk in his footsteps.”
—Kyu Hyun Kim, Pacific Affairs
Chinese Translation of Trespasses (October, 2016)