Symposium gathers Japanese art experts


    By Ashley Morgan

    Scholars from across the country will be speaking at an international symposium in the Harold B. Lee Library on Thursday and Friday.

    The symposium is hosted by the L. Tom Perry Special Collections exhibit “Looking Inward, Looking Outward: Japanese Representations of Self and Other.”

    Nine experts on Japanese art, culture and history will speak at the symposium. Lectures begin at 9 a.m. each day in 1130 HBLL.

    “Students should come away from it [the symposium] and see their similarities with other people,” said Lee Butler, a visiting assistant professor of history. “Dealing with social issue, family and religion and we see the differences as well. We can see how we depict ourselves and others, both good and bad.”

    The symposium is unique in that scholars have focused their topics on specific pieces in the exhibit. The symposium and exhibit are introducing the scholarly world to the rare and valuable artifacts that Special Collections houses.

    Topics include Christianity in the Far East, early maps and guidebooks, the Japanese printing revolution and Samurai politics.

    “The exhibit features really nice things that are really unknown in the scholarly world,” said Scott Miller, professor of Japanese and comparative literature. “The pieces have been really well hidden and the symposium is a way to announce their existence to scholars.”

    Miller organized the symposium and will speak Friday on a Japanese biography written about President Ulysses S. Grant.

    Grant visited Japan in 1879 and was the first ex-president to visit the country. The biography was adapted to make Grant a more acceptable hero for the Japanese audience, Miller said.

    A highlight in the symposium, as Halloween approaches, will be the lecture on the Inventory of Hobgoblins, a scroll depicting 35 different demons, ghosts and ghouls.

    The library purchased most of the artifacts in the exhibit, which date from the eighth to the twentieth centuries, in 1966.

    “The exhibit gives students a different perspective on the history of Japan,” said Scott Duvall, assistant university librarian. “It also lets students know about the variety of material we have available in Special Collections.”

    To learn more about the symposium schedule, lecture times, topics or the exhibition, call Special Collections at 422-3514 or visit

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