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America's Japan and Japan's Performing Arts

Cultural Mobility and Exchange in New York, 1952-2011

Barbara Thornbury

Publication Year: 2013

America’s Japan and Japan’s Performing Arts studies the images and myths that have shaped the reception of Japan-related theater, music, and dance in the United States since the 1950s. Soon after World War II, visits by Japanese performing artists to the United States emerged as a significant category of American cultural-exchange initiatives aimed at helping establish and build friendly ties with Japan. Barbara E. Thornbury explores how “Japan” and “Japanese culture” have been constructed, reconstructed, and transformed in response to the hundreds of productions that have taken place over the past sixty years in New York, the main entry point and defining cultural nexus in the United States for the global touring market in the performing arts. Thornbury crosses disciplinary boundaries in her wide range of both primary sources and published scholarship, making the book of interest to students and scholars of performing arts studies, Japanese studies, and cultural studies.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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p. 1-1


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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-9


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pp. 10-11

Japanese Names and Terms

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pp. xi-13

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pp. 1-44

This book is a study of the images and myths that have defined and shaped the reception of Japan-related theater, music, and dance in the United States since the postwar 1950s. In the mid-1980s, at the height of fierce ...

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1. America’s Kabuki-Japan

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pp. 32-88

Against the backdrop of a cold-war imperative to secure Japan as an American friend in Asia through projects of cultural diplomacy, three Pulitzer Prize winners—playwright-novelist ... Paul Green, producer-director- playwright Joshua Logan, and novelist-journalist James Michener—turned ....

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2. “America’s Japan,” the Performing Arts, and Japan Society, New York

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pp. 76-118

“In this modern era, where boundaries—national, cultural and conceptual— are constantly bent and traversed, Japanese culture is no longer confined to the geographical borders of Japan,” Japan Society told readers of ...

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3. De-familiarizing Japan at La MaMa E.T.C.

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pp. 106-134

“The brilliant theatrical and dramatic upsurge in Japan in the late 1960s truly merits the appellation ‘renaissance,’” Yasunari Takahashi has written. “It brought about a revolutionary change in the concept of theatrical representation, if not in the actual structure...

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4. Claiming the New, Reclaiming the Old in “Music From Japan”

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pp. 122-156

“Today, the number of Oriental music students in this country has multiplied manyfold, and there has been a notable increase in soloists and orchestra players from Japan and South Korea (and, so far, a few from ...

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5. Lincoln Center Festival’s Japan

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pp. 144-176

“The processes of globalization,” Patrick Lonergan has written, “have contributed to a subsequent festivalization of the performing arts industry, transforming festivals into the preferred sites for the promotion and ...

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6. Negotiating the Foreign: Language, American Audiences, and Theater from Japan

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pp. 164-198

In his critically acclaimed US theatrical debut in 1979, Kobo Abe delivered a provocative collage of words, images, and sound. Onstage, amid the mutating figures of actors draped in large cloths, seemingly random English-language words and sentences were projected onto “costumes and ...

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7. Closure and Counterpoint: The JapanNYC Festival, the Earthquake and Tsunami Benefit Concerts, and Circuits of Mobility and Exchange, 2010-2011

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pp. 186-211

In his introduction to Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto Stephen Greenblatt cites the “urgent need to rethink fundamental assumptions about the fate of culture in an age of global mobility.” Some cultures, he notes, “are ...


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pp. 199-253

Select Bibliography

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pp. 241-263


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pp. 251-275

E-ISBN-13: 9780472029280
E-ISBN-10: 0472029282
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472118854
Print-ISBN-10: 0472118854

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 15 color images
Publication Year: 2013


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Subject Headings

  • Theater -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Theater -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
  • Performing arts -- Japan -- Influence.
  • Intercultural communication in the performing arts.
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