2017-2019 Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Kakenhi) (C), JSPS.
Research subject: “Cognitive Approaches to Worldwide Shakespeare Performances: Challenges and Possibilities.”
The general purpose and the specific aim of this study
Cognitive approaches lag behind, especially in Japanese theater studies. This project aims to clarify the challenges and possibilities of cognitive approaches to worldwide Shakespeare performances, in terms of both theories and practices. The specific aim of this project is to discover new artistic and cultural values through cognitive approaches to worldwide Shakespeare performances and to make effective suggestions to the field.
1. Academic background of this study
a) Domestic and overseas research trends and the position of this study
Cognitive linguistics has developed since the second half of the 20th century. However, cognitive approaches in the field of literature and theatre studies are still at their initial stages, as indicated by the subject of the first online meeting held by the Modern Language Association (MLA) using the MLA Commons platform, which is “Cognitive Approaches to Comparative Literature” in April 2017. Cognitive approaches in the field of drama and performance are therefore highly promising, yet are underdeveloped, especially in Japan. This project will be pioneering in Japan, and it is important to make its results known to the international community
i)The significance and trend of cognitive approaches
An important previous work is Lisa Zunshine’s, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Literary Studies (Oxford: OUP, 2015), particularly Chapter 15. Noel Carroll, “Theater and the Emotion.” Significantly, Lars Engle expresses expectations for cognitive approaches at the end of his section, “Shakespeare and the Critics,” in Bruce R. Smith, ed., The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare, 2 vols., (Cambridge: CUP, 2016, Vol.2, p.1802). Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field of psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, neural science, philosophy, sociology, and other related disciplines. While it actively tackles a variety of tasks, its central questions are “What is humanity” and “What is emotion?” The field of theater and performing arts is deeply involved in humans and emotions, and is therefore expected to contribute to understanding humans and emotions, ranging from the relationship between actors and the audience to the effect of scenography, in an innovative way via cognitive approaches.
ii)The significance and trend of worldwide Shakespeare performances
Since being founded in 1971, the World Shakespeare Congress has examined a variety of Shakespeare performances around the globe. The research area of worldwide Shakespeare performance has been firmly established since then, and researchers in Europe, the United States, and Asia have promoted it, resulting in a wide range of books, papers, and websites. In 2010, aiming to address Euro-American centrism in Shakespeare studies, an East Asian research team started making public the digital archive of Asian Shakespeare performances, with subtitles in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (A|S|I|A: Asian Shakespeare Intercultural Archive). The United Kingdom, the traditional home of Shakespeare productions, invites theater groups, directors, and actors from all over the world to appreciate their productions, thus globalizing Shakespeare. The International Association of University Professors of English (IAUPE) holds a triennial conference, and its Shakespeare Section is famous for its number of participants and distinguished scholars’ presentations.
Figure 1: The Conceptual Map of this Research
As Figure 1 shows, this innovative interdisciplinary study aims to uncover the challenges and possibilities of cognitive approaches to worldwide Shakespeare performances by synergistically combining these three vital fields.
b) Conceptual background of the subject (based on past research)
There are three main factors for this project. First, I received a strong intellectual stimulus in “transversal poetics.” Transversal poetics, advocated by theater theorist Bryan Reynolds, whom I invited with a grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in 2014, combines not only contemporary critical theories, but also brain science, cognitive psychology, and other related disciplines. Second, my paper on the demand of translingual performances and cognitive approaches at the 10th World Shakespeare Congress held in August 2016 was greatly appreciated, and was published in an international academic journal (“Translingual Performance of King Lear: Lear Dreaming as a Case Study,” Litteraria Pragensia: Studies In Literature and Culture, Prague: Charles University, 26.52 (December 2016), pp.90-105). Third, although Japanese humanities (including the field of theatre studies) seems to be unable to make drastic reform proposals even on the verge of serious crisis, I firmly believe that there remains a possibility of finding new artistic and cultural values by introducing cognitive approaches. For example, when a humanoid could not move like a human when analyzed by computer for several years at Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro’s laboratory of engineering robotics of Osaka University, playwright and director Oriza Hirata, who also conducts research on cognitive psychology, succeeded in making the humanoid act more human by giving detailed instructions on “acting,” which scientists cannot do. As this example shows, cognitive approaches to theatre and performing arts, represented by Shakespeare, might enable future industry-academia collaborations.
c) The connection between previous achievements and the present study
I developed this study from the following Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Kakenhi) (C), JSPS: “An Analytical Model Construction for Understanding Intercultural Conflicts in Shakespeare’s Plays,” 2004-2006; “Intercultural Performance of Shakespeare Plays: A Model of Promoting Mutual Understanding,” 2007-2009; “Intercultural Education through World Shakespeare Performance,” 2011-2013; and “Translingual Performances of Shakespeare Worldwide: Challenges and Possibilities,” 2014-2016. In the first study, I investigated intercultural conflicts; in the second, my focus was on intercultural understanding through overcoming intercultural conflicts; in the third, my focus was on intercultural education through theater; and in the fourth study, my focus was on worldwide Shakespeare performances, specifically translingual performance. In this study, my focus will be on cognitive approaches to worldwide Shakespeare performances.
2. Three year research plan
I will examine the issues related to the cognitive approaches to worldwide Shakespeare performances and start preparing for a presentation at the IAUPE Triennial Conference in 2019. To investigate the latest developments of cognitive approaches to literature and theatre studies, I will attend the Digital Humanities 2017 Conference held by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) (Venue: McGill University, Canada) in August and the MLA’s annual conference in January 2018 (Venue: New York, USA). I will also travel to London (UK) and the SCOT International Summer Festival (Toga, Toyama) in August and September to conduct a field study of cognitive approaches to worldwide Shakespeare performances. I publish a paper in an academic journal.
I will continue to elucidate cognitive approaches to worldwide Shakespeare performances, while further examining a set of written texts, digital data, and visual materials, ranging from Shakespeare performance studies, theatre theory, cognitive psychology, and cognitive science, to other related areas. From mid-August to early September, I will conduct a field study in Stratford-upon-Avon, London, Edinburgh International Festival (UK), and SCOT International Summer Festival (Toga, Toyama). I hope to read a paper at the International Shakespeare Conference held by the East India Shakespeare Association in December 2018 or January 2019. I will continue to maintain and update my English homepage.
I will make a research presentation in the Shakespeare section of IAUPE Triennial Conference 2019 (Venue: University of Poznań, Poland) in late July, and prepare to publish the three years’ achievements.
3. Academic characteristics, originality, expected results, and significance of this study
a) Characteristics and originality
This study connects cognitive approaches, which have gained importance given the spread of cognitive psychology, cognitive science, and other related sciences in the twenty-first century, to worldwide Shakespeare performances as well as to theatre and performing arts. It thus aims to uncover new artistic and cultural values for performing Shakespeare plays and to explore theoretical and practical methods to promote cognitive approaches to worldwide Shakespeare performances for their contemporary relevance. The interdisciplinary characteristics of this study and its aims are inspiring and original.
b) Expected result and its significance
The expected results and significance of this study are as follows:
i)It will help uncover new artistic and cultural values of worldwide Shakespeare performances through cognitive approaches.
ii)It will deepen cognitive understanding worldwide through Shakespeare performances.
iii)By reevaluating Shakespeare performances produced around the world in terms of cognitive approaches, it will provide educators guidelines for teaching Shakespeare, and theatre practitioners guidelines for performing Shakespeare.
(This is an English revised version of the abstract from my application for the 2017–2019 Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Kakenhi) (C), JSPS.)