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Fields Of Contention: Philology (Bunkengaku) And The Philosophy Of Literature (Bungeigaku)

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Chapter Summary

It is not uncommon to find in Japanese universities today a mutual suspicion between scholars of "national literature" (kokubungaku), whose field of expertise is mainly the Japanese "classics," and the more philosophically-oriented scholars of "aesthetics" (bigaku), who are trained in Western philosophy and often write on the Japanese "classics". This struggle is then reproduced in American and European academic institutions concerned with Japanese studies, where scholars are asked to join a specific camp, either Japanese literature or Japanese thought, sending to comparative literature those who have been rejected by both the hard-line "philologists" and the hard-line "philosophers". This chapter outlines the major issues related to this struggle by focusing on the formation of the Japanese field of classical literature that to this day is dominated by "the philological approach" and yet heavily borrowed from the aestheticians's vocabulary to talk about the "classics"..

Keywords: aesthetics; classical literature; philology



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