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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

Art, War and Samurai Sociability in Sixteenth-Century Japan

7th June 2016, 17:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, Dr Morgan Pitelka

to be followed by a drinks reception in the Cafe, Palace Green Library.

Please note places for this lecture are limited, if you would like to attend please contact kelly Guy at:

This event is sponsored by the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

What connects the 16th-century samurai practices of collecting and displaying art at social gatherings to counting and examining heads after battle? How do the rituals of gift-giving among warlords relate to the politics of falconry? This talk will link the extreme violence of this age of civil and international war to the increasing significance of samurai social rituals and cultural practices. It will argue that warlords accrued power and reinforced hierarchy both in tea houses and on the battlefield, having a profound effect on the creation and character of Japan’s early modern polity.

Morgan Pitelka is an Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Studies (affiliated with History) and Director of the Carolina Asia Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on the history and material culture of the long sixteenth century (the shift from medieval to early modern) in Japan. He is particularly interested in the history of the samurai, the history of tea culture, the history of ceramics, and the methodology of material culture studies. His publications include Japanese Tea Culture: Art, History, and Practice (Routledge, 2003), Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan (Hawaii, 2005), and (Hawaii, 2007, co-edited with Jan Mrazek). His two new books in 2016 are Spectacular Accumulation: Material Culture, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Samurai Sociability (Hawaii, 2016) and Kyoto Visual Culture in the Early Edo and Meiji Periods: The Arts of Reinvention (Routledge, 2016, co-edited with Alice Tseng).

Contact for more information about this event.