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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Zoom [Registration link available below]
Event date: 
Monday, 1 November, 2021 - 17:30 to 19:00



To enlighten and entertain: Popular science publishing in early-Meiji Japan 

Though a considerable number of popular science books were published in the first few years of the Meiji period, other than Fukuzawa Yukichi’s Kinmō Kyūri zukai (Illustrated Book of Physical Sciences), these tend to get little attention in historical accounts of science in modern Japan. The content of these popular works was similar to that of textbooks translated for use in schools. However, in terms of their materiality, style, and audience, they have come to be associated with light entertainment formats considered incongruous with science.

This talk seeks to draw these works into the mainstream narrative of Meiji science. These books had a wide readership and were how most people encountered science. Thus, an examination of their stylistic properties and narrative strategies will reveal a richer and more nuanced understanding of the place of science in the wider culture of the Meiji period.

This talk will focus on science in three genres: fictional forms, such as the monogatari; epistolary forms; and religious forms, such as the sutra. It will show that these genres were not incidental to but, rather, integral to shaping readers understanding of the meaning and value of science.

Ruselle Meade is a lecturer in Japanese studies at Cardiff University. Her research focuses on the translation of science and technology in modern Japan. She is co-editor, with Erich Pauer, of Technical Knowledge in Early Modern Japan.


“illustration from the frontispiece of ‘A monthly copybook for women: a shortcut to science’ 女十二月状: 窮理捷径, 1873”