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A savvy publisher in early-modern Japan: Urokogataya and the art of repackaging. Dr Laura Moretti

Prompted by the publication of Recasting the Past: An Early Modern Tales of Ise for Children (Brill, 2016),  this research project explores the world of the commercial publisher Urokogataya, with a focus on the third generation who was active in the second half of the eighteenth century. A good number of the titles issued by Urokogataya repackage previous literature into the format of picturebooks (kusazōshi 草双紙). What works did Urokogataya select as source texts? What kind of ‘canon’ was he trying to construct through this choice? What happens to the source texts (both at the verbal and at the visual level) when they are adapted into the new medium of kusazōshi? Does the interplay between text and image change when moving into a different page layout? Does any such change produce a different reading experience? The project intends to answer these research questions while shedding light on how a commercial publisher in early-modern Japan made strategic business decisions.

Ise fūryū: Utagaruta [no] hajimari 伊勢風流/続松紀原 (The Fashionable Ise: The Origins of Utagaruta), published by Urokogataya around 1766, 1v-2r. National Institute of Japanese Literature.
Ise fūryū: Utagaruta [no] hajimari 伊勢風流/続松紀原 (The Fashionable Ise: The Origins of Utagaruta), published by Urokogataya around 1766, 1v-2r. National Institute of Japanese Literature.