The latter half of the nineteenth century witnessed unprecedented standardization of time, space, and language within and across national boundaries. Standardization had profound implications for “the Great Japanese Empire,” as the Meiji state was consecrated in the 1890 Constitution. For the first several decades of the new regime, Japan struggled to repeal the unequal treaties that had been imposed upon the shogunate in the 1850s, even as it embarked upon modernization campaigns and acquiring its own dominion in East Asia and the Pacific. In this talk Jacobowitz looks at how the rhythms of daily life in Meiji Japan were converted into the calculable units and scenes of the industrial machine age.
Seth Jacobowitz is an Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures at Yale University. He is the author of Writing Technology in Meiji Japan: A Media History of Modern Japanese Literature and Visual Culture (Harvard Asia Center, 2015) and translator of The Edogawa Rampo Reader (Kurodahan Press, 2008). He is currently writing a book entitled Brazil in the Japanese Imperial Imagination: Immigrant Literature and Transnational Modernity, 1908-1941.