In her dissertation project, Hana Scheltat examines the poetic and aesthetic discourses of the Early Romantics of the Meiji-era (1868-1912), known as Rôman-ha. In the project, the early romantic poetics of Japan, which are characterized by a great ambivalence, are examined in relation to their similarities to and differences from the European literary periods read by the Japanese poets whose poetics are discussed.
The ambivalence of Japanese early romantic poetics is characterized on the one hand by a high degree of dependence on traditional, indigenous aesthetic ideals as well as strong adaption of modern Western concepts on the other. This doctoral thesis concentrates upon the poetry circle centred around Kitamura Tôkoku (1868-1894) and Shimazaki Tôson (1872-1943), who greatly influenced the discourses of lyric and prose for a whole decade by publishing texts on poetics and aesthetics in literary magazines such as Jogaku zasshi(1885-1904) and Bungakukai (1893-1898).
With the help of literary theory, this thesis will develop a comparatively-applicable system from the romantic concepts of “love”, “nature”, “identity” and “religion”. The system will then be applied diachronically in order to explore these central romantic concepts in relation to subsequent postmodern concepts of identity.