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Stations, Steam, and Speed: Railroads and the Spatial Imaginary in Nineteenth Century Japanese Woodblock Prints

Third Thursday lecture - Sainsbury Institute

木曜日 18 5月, 2023
6:00pm BST - 7:00pm BST


Online lecture, via Zoom.
50 min lecture followed by Q&A.
Free and open to all, booking essential.
To check your time zone conversion if you are joining from outside the UK, click here.

A recording of this lecture is available on request. Please email sisjac@sainsbury-institute.org for more details.


Dr Alison Miller (Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow 2023, Sainsbury Institute)

About the Talk

In 1872, the first railway opened in Tokyo, forever changing the landscape of the city. In the years surrounding the event, locomotives, rail lines, and train stations were a popular subject of woodblock prints, often realistic in their representation, but occasionally showing a fantasy amalgamation technology and topography. Over the subsequent decades train lines expanded quickly throughout the country, and images of railways changed as the transit system became an integral part of daily life.

Nineteenth century prints were commercial goods produced by publishers in collaboration with artists, carvers, and printers for the open market, but were simultaneously a core means for the Japanese public to learn about their changing urban environment. This talk examines woodblock prints of rail transit from the 1870s, introducing a brief history of Japanese trains and considering how the images help us to understand the changing spatial and temporal organization of the era.

About the Speaker

Dr. Alison J Miller is Associate Professor of Art History and Director of Asian Studies at the University of the South (Sewanee), and currently a Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute. Her research focuses on two-dimensional media in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with a particular interest in prints and gender.

Image: Utagawa Hiroshige III. Woodblock print. View of Shinbashi railway station in Tokyo. 1870s. © The Trustees of the British Museum


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The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult UK.