Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department


Faculty Mentor Department

Modern and Classical Languages

Faculty Mentor

Robert Tuck

Faculty Reader(s)

Judith Rabinovitch


Japanse poetry, Japanese literature, genbun itchi, tanka, shintaishi, Shimazaki Toson

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature


This research project shows how the poetry of writer Shimazaki Tōson (1872-1943) influenced Japanese literary and language reform movements during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although Tōson's fiction has often been the focus of critical studies and research, the impact his poetry had on these reform movements and on the shape of modern Japanese literature tends to be overlooked. In this paper, I show the importance of these overlooked works by examining a wide range of Tōson's poems and focusing on the way that they blend classical Japanese natural themes and rhythm, most commonly a 5-7-5 or related syllable pattern, with contemporary Western Romanticism. Upon examination of Tōson's poetry, it becomes clear that these works acted as a bridge between classical literature and contemporary colloquial speech patterns, as well as a bridge between classical Japanese literature and modern, more Western-influenced styles. This bridging process was key to the redefinition of Japanese literature in the modern period. In turn, these changes brought written styles closer to the Japanese actually spoken by most citizens and helped to expand the readership of Japanese literature while showing that this new style could still ring with the rhythm and beauty of traditional Japanese literary forms. Demonstrating the influential nature of Tōson's poetry for Japanese language and literary reform movements, this thesis highlights the importance of often overlooked writing during a transitional period in the history of Japanese literature.

Honors College Research Project




© Copyright 2014 Grace E. Yon