New Research Examines Japanese Poets’ New Ways Of Thinking About Media

As soon as a new media technology emerges – for instance ChatGPT or a virtual reality headset – a discourse starts up, as enthusiasts expound on its uses while skeptics write op-eds about perceived threats.

“We’re in an era where it seems that new media and media technologies that kind of freak us out emerge constantly,” said Andrew Campana, assistant professor of Asian studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and a literature and media scholar. “It’s important to remember that this is not a new story. Humans have been grappling with this for a long time, and capturing that unsettling feeling is something poetry is really good at.”

In new research, Campana examines cinema-centered poetry in Japan from the 1910s and 1920s, discovering the ways poetry chronicles lasting human impressions left by “new” media–especially in a century when the “new” doesn’t stick around for long. His article “Projected on the Dusk: Seeking Cinema in 1910s and 1920s Japanese Poetry” published in Literature in March.

Japanese poets such as Kitahara Hakushu and Okayama Higashi engaged with early cinema in their work, capturing ageless truths about human reactions to new media, Campana argues.