Justin Jesty’s book traces the activities of artists, activists, and educators from 1945 to 1960 (a period from the end of the Asia-Pacific War to mass protests against the Japan–United States alliance) who intervened in high culture and the culture of everyday life to promote political and social change and prevent the return of fascism. Jesty positions three groups active in the period, each trying to widen the scope of who qualified as an artist and to expand the place of artistic creation in daily life, in the efflorescence of “democratic culture” after the war and a spirit of engagement that supported their commitment to change. Contrasting the work of artist-activists in this period to the political art of the 1960s, Jesty calls attention to conflict, hybridity, and “the reality of roads not taken” (6) after changes in state policy, media technology,...
Art and Engagement in Early Postwar Japan
Christopher L. Hill is associate professor of Japanese literature at the University of Michigan. He is author of National History and the World of Nations (2008) and Figures of the World: The Naturalist Novel and Transnational Form (2020). He is now writing on Japanese intellectuals and the decolonization of Asia and Africa.
Christopher L. Hill; Art and Engagement in Early Postwar Japan. Modern Language Quarterly 1 March 2021; 82 (1): 133–135. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-8742547
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