Townsend Book Chat with Grace Lavery: Quaint, Exquisite: Victorian Aesthetics and the Idea of Japan

Lecture | December 4 | 12-1 p.m. | Stephens Hall, Geballe Room, 220 Stephens

 Townsend Center for the Humanities

From the opening of trade with Britain in the 1850s, Japan occupied a unique and contradictory place in the Victorian imagination, regarded as both a rival empire and a cradle of exquisite beauty. Quaint, Exquisite (Princeton, 2019) explores the enduring impact of this dramatic encounter, showing how the rise of Japan led to a major transformation of Western aesthetics at the dawn of globalization. Through an analysis of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, English derivations of the haiku, and retellings of the Madame Butterfly story, and drawing on a range of philosophical and theoretical texts, Grace Lavery (English) argues that the global popularity of Japanese art in the late nineteenth century reflected an imagined universal standard of taste.

After a brief conversation about the book, Lavery will open the floor for discussion.

This Townsend Center lunchtime series celebrates the intellectual and artistic endeavors of the UC Berkeley faculty. Each Berkeley Book Chat features a faculty member engaged in conversation about a recently completed publication, performance, or recording. The series highlights the extraordinary breadth and depth of Berkeley’s academic community.

 All Audiences

 All Audiences

 Light refreshments