In-person lecture@Kyushu University: Ethan Segal on Hōjō Masako (December 7)

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Ellen Van Goethem

Nov 28, 2022, 7:59:15 AM11/28/22
Dear list members,

Those of you who happen to be in or around Fukuoka on December 7 are cordially invited to an in-person lecture by Prof. Ethan Segal of Michigan State University.

The title of Prof. Segal’s talk is “Conflicting Images and Problematic Sources: Rethinking the Legacy of Hōjō Masako.”

Medieval documents offer some of our only windows into the distant past. But how accurately do they preserve the memories of medieval Japan’s most important figures? Is accuracy even worth considering when evaluating pre-modern historical and literary materials? This paper explores such questions through a case study of Hōjō Masako (1157-1225), wife to the first Kamakura shogun and mother of the next two. Depending on the source, her legacy is viewed in starkly contrasting ways. Materials written during Japan’s early medieval period praise Masako’s roles and give her credit with helping save the shogunate in key moments of crisis, whereas late medieval sources vilify her as a heartless mother and scheming wife who meddled in politics. Such contrasting tendencies have carried through even to modern-day depictions in televised historical dramas. Along with critically analyzing the reasons for the shifting perceptions of Masako over the centuries, the paper offers insights into the roles of gender in medieval warrior society and raises questions about the limits of knowledge, the ways we can/should handle biased source materials, and the challenges of historical biography.

Time: December 7 at 5pm
Location: Kyushu University Ito Campus, East Zone, Room B-103

All the best,
20221207 Segal Hojo Masako.jpg

Dr. Ellen Van Goethem
Associate Professor
Japanese History and History of Ideas
Kyushu University, Faculty of Humanities
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