Member book, Brecher, Japan’s Private Spheres: Autonomy in Japanese History, 1600-1930

W. Puck Brecher's picture

I am pleased to announce publication of Japan’s Private Spheres: Autonomy in Japanese History, 1600-1930 (Leiden: Brill, 2021), 364 pp. E-Book (PDF) ISBN: 978-90-04-45015-8. Hardback ISBN: 978-90-04-44754-7.

In this far-reaching, interdisciplinary book, I explore the historical development of the private and its evolving relationship with public authority, a dynamic that evokes stereotypes about an alleged dearth of individual agency in Japanese society. I do so through a montage of case studies. For the early modern era, case studies examine peripheral living spaces, boyhood, and self-interrogation in the arts. For the modern period, they explore strategic deviance, individuality in Meiji education, modern leisure, and body-maintenance. Analysis of these disparate private realms illuminates evolving conceptualizations of the private and its reciprocal yet often-contested relationship to the state. 

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures

List of Keywords



Part I: Contextualizing the Private Sphere in Japanese History

Chapter 1        Introduction: The Private "Problem"

Chapter 2        Public and Private in Pre-Meiji Thought and Society

Chapter 3        The Private Self and the Meiji-Taisho State


Part II: The Autonomous Self in the Edo Period (1600-1868)

Chapter 4        Peripheries as Private Spheres

Chapter 5        Boyhood as an Autonomous Sphere

Chapter 6        “Publicizing” the Private: Self-interrogation and Self-indulgence in the Arts


Part III: Public and Private Selves in Meiji and Taisho (1868-1926)

Chapter 7        The Deviant in Meiji Society: Autonomy, Individuality, and Public Power

Chapter 8        The Private Individual in Early Meiji Education (1872-1890s)

Chapter 9        Education and Public Individuality (1890s-1927) 


Part IV: The Nationalization of Private Leisure (1868-1930s)

Chapter 10      Vacationing and Moral Authority

Chapter 11      Nationalizing the Body: Physical Exercise as a Public Ethic

Chapter 12      Conclusion: Can Modern Japanese Private Spheres be Moral?        







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