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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Visual Evidence (Ghosts - the Evidence of Spirits) Public Lecture series : Ghosts and Goblins in Early Modern Japan (18th-19th centuries)

10th November 2015, 18:15, Room ER140, Elvet Riverside Building, Dr Rosina Buckland (National Museum of Scotland)

Supernatural creatures were inextricably woven into early modern Japanese society. Their forms ranged from benevolent manifestations of sacred beings, through humorous goblins, to malevolent shape-shifters and ghosts. These themes were a mainstay of popular visual culture, theatrical productions and literature, and while the various creatures often provided entertainment, they also served to remind people of the importance of religious and folkloric beliefs. Some forms were imported from China, as part of the larger framework of classical civilization and learning, but other were native to Japan, emerging from particular topographies and practices. These supernatural beings can provide us with insight into the way Japanese people of the time understood the world around them, as well as that which lay beyond the knowable world.

The lecture will present examples from the visual tradition, in woodblock prints, paintings, masks, and personal ornaments, exploring both the anthropological meanings and the artistic interpretations to be found in this rich cultural sphere.

The project consists of three separate, but complementary strands: a lecture series, an exhibition on ‘Ghost Stories’ held in October 2015 at the Durham World Heritage Site Visitor Centre; and a one-day workshop to take place at the IAS on 23 February 2016. Lectures will be held fortnightly on commencing 13 October at 6:15pm in Elvet Riverside 140. Lectures and the exhibition are open to all, though attendees at the opening event of the exhibition will need to register in advance.

For more information on this series of events, please click on this link.


This lecture is free and open to all.

Map - Elvet Riverside is denoted as building No. 25

Contact for more information about this event.