Cody Poulton

Cody Poulton
Position
Professor; Japanese Studies Coordinator and Adviser
Pacific and Asian Studies
Credentials

PhD, University of Toronto

Contact
Office: CLE C213
Research Interests
  • Japanese theatre and literature
  • Modern drama and fiction
  • Contemporary culture, science and technology in Japan
  • Izumi Kyōka and fantastic literature
  • Religion and folklore studies
  • The culture of pilgrimage in Japan
Biography

Mark Cody Poulton (PhD, U of T) has been teaching Japanese language, literature and theatre in the Department of Pacific and Asian Studies since 1988. His recent research has focused on Japanese theatre and drama, particularly of the modern period. He has also been active as a translator of kabuki and modern Japanese fiction and drama, for both publication and live stage productions in Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan. In addition, he has been collaborating with Hiroko Noro on a number of projects using drama for Japanese language pedagogy. The working title for Dr. Poulton’s current research, for which he has received a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, is “Encounters with the non-Human in Japanese Theatre: Spirits, Animals, Technology.” He is also interested in pilgrimage and the Kumano region of Japan, and in the culture of Japanese cuisine.

Cody Poulton has received a number of research grants:

  • 2015-: Fellow, International Research Center "Interweaving Performance Cultures,” Freie Universität, Berlin
  • 2011-14. SSHRC Standard Research Grant. Research title: "Encounters with the Non-Human in Japanese
    Theatre: Spirits, Animals, Technology"
  • 2011. CAPI Research Grant: Seed money for research project on puppets and robotics in Japan.
  • 2007. SSHRC Workshop grant. Applied with Richard King and Katsuhiko Endo (Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives/Pacific & Asian Studies) to fund workshop on Sino-Japanese cultural relations.
  • 2006. SSHRCC Research Clusters - Development Grant. Applied on behalf of CANJAS (Canadian Japanese Studies Research Network) and shared with UBC, UA, U Calgary, McGill and Toronto to coordinate Japanese studies in Canada and share distance broadcasts of guest lectures, etc.      
Selected publications
The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Drama, The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Drama, co-edited with Mitsuya Mori and J. Thomas Rimer (Columbia University Press, 2014).
Sino-Japanese Transculturation Sino-Japanese Transculturation: from the late nineteenth century to the end of the Pacific War, co-edited with Katsuhiko Endo and Richard King (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2011)
A Beggar's Art A Beggar's Art: Scripting Modernity in Japanese Drama, 1900-1930 (University of Hawai’i Press, 2010)

Books

Courses

PAAS 280 A Taste of Japan

This course will look at the history of Japanese cuisine and show how the country’s obsession with eating well anticipated the global slow food movement and our age of celebrity chefs. A few topics we will cover include: Food as sustenance; Food and the environment; Food and class; Food, region and nation; Food and ethics; Food and aesthetics; The popular culture of consumerism; and the sociality of eating.

PAAS 385:  Love and Sex in Japanese Culture

There is nothing more personal, yet more ritualized and regulated than human sexual desire and its expression. Japan in particular has a rich literature and culture of love and eroticism, one that illustrates striking differences, as well as a few parallels, with modern-day Western and other societies. This course will examine in seminar format a selection of works on love and sex in Japan, from the fiction, drama, poetry and discursive writings of earliest times to the present-day. Class readings will be supplemented with student presentations on a variety of topics and texts.

PAAS 394/THEA 312:  Traditional Japanese Theatre

This course provides a general introduction to Japanese theatre history, from its origins in folk and ritual performance to the nineteenth century. The major genres to be covered include nô, kyôgen, the puppet theatre, and kabuki. All readings will be done in English translation. These will be supplemented wherever possible with screenings of recordings of performances. The classes will consist of a combination of lectures, screenings, and class discussion of the assigned readings and material covered in class.

Students who wish to take this course require no background either in theatre or in Japanese, though knowledge in at least one of these areas will be helpful. They should have at least second-year standing or my permission.

PAAS 486: Modern Japanese Theatre

This course provides a general introduction to modern Japanese theatre history from the early 20th century down to the present day. The major genres to be covered include kabuki, shinpa, shingeki, angura, absurdist and realist theatre, and contemporary dance and performance art like but!. All readings will be done in English translation. These will be supplemented wherever possible with screenings of recordings of performances. The classes will consist of a combination of lectures, screenings, and class discussion of the assigned readings and material covered in class.

Students who wish to take this course require no background either in theatre or in Japanese, though knowledge in at least one of these areas will be helpful. Having taken PAAS 394/THEA 312 will definitely be an asset. You should have at least second-year standing or my permission.

PAAS 488:  Japanese Fantasy

Contemporary Japanese culture is world-famous today through the work of such artists as Miyazaki Hayao and Ôtomo Katsuhiro and their visions, both utopian and dystopian, of a past and future that are both distinctly “Japanese” and somehow universal. What is clear is that much of contemporary Japanese literature, film, manga and anime present worlds that are significantly different, not only from our own, but also from the everyday experience of the Japanese people. Yet these visions are informed by traditional beliefs of the supernatural as well as fantasies and anxieties about modern life that are both private and communal.

In this course we will read a broad range of fictional works that deal with fantasy and the supernatural in Japan. The material is arranged historically, ranging from the seventh century to contemporary times, covering a variety of genres: ancient myths, various forms of theater and narrative fiction, manga and anime, as well as paintings, prints and other arts that relate to these tales. Through readings in both primary sources and a number of selected critical readings about fantasy as a literary genre, both traditional and modern, we will attempt to chart the contours of the Japanese imagination and why this genre is important for all of us.

PAAS 521:  Selected Topics in Asian Studies

Societies in Asia have approached the problem of the human condition and how to represent it in art (literary, visual, performing, etc.) in radically different ways than those in the Judeo-Christian orbit, and we have an obligation as curious human beings to enquire into the validity of these other ways lest our own humanity come up short. At the heart of many of the culture wars and “clashes of civilization” we face in our increasingly globalized world are opposing notions of humanity, its place, its rights and duties regarding others, even and especially now to the non-human world.

Recent advances in science and technology (such as medicine, bio-engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics, discoveries in the life sciences of the intelligence of animal and their communicative abilities, etc.) are beginning to have a profound impact on our understanding of human life, its limits and place in the scheme of things. Our sense of humanity has always been somewhat contingent upon ideas regarding race, ethnicity and nation, social class, and gender; narratives of humanity—indeed the very discipline of “humanities”—have until recently been developed and disseminated out of a religious and philosophical tradition originating in the European renaissance of the classical Greek and Roman notion that “man [sic] is the measure of all things.” But other cultures, especially those in Asia, have equally venerable and rich traditions that place humankind into a larger and more complex matrix of sentient life that includes everything from plants and trees to invisible spiritual entities. Metamorphosis and transmigration, rather than any sense of a privileged place in “the great chain of Being,” determine human existence and individual identity in many Asian belief systems. Nor have any of these beliefs been eternal or universal, but are contingent at any given time on various fluctuating factors such as history, politics, economics and culture.

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