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Title: The magic lantern in Japan : transnational technology across the long nineteenth century
Author: Bremner, Lewis
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 7281
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis presents a history of the magic lantern in Japan from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century. From the first recorded appearance of the magic lantern in the 1770s, Japanese intellectual figures such as Ōtsuki Gentaku were fascinated by the device and positioned it within a wider discourse on epistemology, knowledge about nature, and the study of the human body. This helped to lay the groundwork for the emergence of localised groups of domestic magic lantern producers in the early nineteenth century, which supported, in turn, the unprecedented country-wide popularity of magic lantern shows in the latter half of the 1800s and early 1900s. With different versions of the device in production and circulation, the technology found use in the hands of a variety of state and non-state historical actors, linking it to both broad societal changes and the everyday lives of Japanese people in this period. This work, the first detailed study of the topic in English, traces not only the development of the magic lantern as a physical instrument in Japan, but also the expanding web of intellectual, social, economic, cultural, and political developments that hinged on or were otherwise profoundly shaped by connections to this unique technology. As well as elucidating the significance of the magic lantern beyond the spheres of visual culture and pre-cinema history, the thesis uses the device to tell a story from beyond the prevailing narratives of global technological and intellectual development. By analysing the ways that this single technology was imported, ascribed meaning, manufactured, and used over a significant timeframe - the "long" nineteenth century - it is possible to consider Japanese history outside of the conventional divide of "early modern" Tokugawa Japan and "modern" Meiji Japan. This new technological history decentres the influence of the West and the state, revealing instead the far-reaching importance of transnational, often non-state connections and networks to major trends in areas such as technological and cultural production, epistemology, humanitarianism, and political discourse.
Supervisor: Konishi, Sho Sponsor: Toyota-Shi Trevelyan Trust ; Toshiba International Foundation ; British Association of Japanese Studies
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History