Talk at the Library: 'They Struggeled Against Age, They Struggeled Against Time'
A Conversation with Japanologists Raji Steineck and Simone Müller
ZURICH, October 25, 2023 — In this Talk at the Library, Japanologists and University of Zurich Professors Raji Steineck and Simone Müller speak with Martina Froehlich, project manager at the Embassy of Japan in Switzerland, to unravel the diverse ways in which time was perceived, experienced, and negotiated in Medieval Japan.
Professor Simone Müller is senior lecturer of Japanese studies at the University of Zurich. Currently she is Research Associate in the ERC Advanced Grant Project “Time in Medieval Japan” (TIMEJ, PI Prof. Raji C. Steineck) and PI of the SNSF Project “Time and Emotion in Medieval Japanese Literature”. 1992-1999 Studies of Japanology, Sinology and Philosophy at the University of Zurich, at Tōkyō University of Foreign Studies and and Dōshisha University (Kyōto). 2003 PhD and 2012 submission of second book (Habilitation) in Japanese Studies at the University of Zurich. Research stays at Sophia University (Tōkyō), at Kyōto University of Technology and at Cornell University. Research interests: Japanese literature and intellectual history. Her recent publications include The ‘Debate on the Literature of Action’ and Its Legacy: Ideological Struggles in 1930s Japan and the ‘Rebirth’ of the Intellectual (The Journal of Japanese Studies 2015), A Young Lady’s Longing for a Lost Past. A Chronotopic Analysis of the Medieval Memoir ‘Utatane’ (‘Fitful Slumbers’) (BmE 2020), and Zeit in der vormodernen japanischen Literatur / Time in Premodern Japanese Literature (de Gruyter 2021).
Professor Raji Steineck studied Japanology, philosophy and musicology, obtaining an M.A. in Japanese studies (1993) and a Dr. phil. in philosophy (1999) at Bonn University. In 2006, he received the venia legendi in Japanology from the same university. During research for his doctoral dissertation on fundamental structures of mystical thought and later on as a postdoc, he spent a total of 28 months at Kyoto University, with scholarships from the DAAD, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Humboldt Foundation and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Between 2002 and 2006, he was back at Bonn University, working as a research fellow in the group „Bioethical Conflicts in Japan.“ During this period, he published a number of articles on topics such as the debates on brain death and human embryo research in Japan and prepared a monograph on notions of the human body in Japanese bioethical debates (published in 2007). In addition, he taught in the departments of Japanese studies and philosophy, and was invited as a teaching fellow to Adam-Mickiewicz-University in Poznań (Poland) in 2004.
From 2007 to early 2008, he was professor of Japanese Intellectual History at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, before taking office as associate professor of Japanology in Zurich in February 2008. In 2010, he became director of the Institute of East Asian Studies, and upon formation of the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies in 2013, one of its founding directors. In 2012, he served as a visiting professor of ethics at Doshisha University in Kyoto. In the same year, he also organized the triennial meeting of the German Association of Japanese Studies in Zurich and was elected as one of the presidents of the association. He is an active board member of the International Society for the Study of Time (since 2007, president since 2012) and the Swiss Assosiation of Asian Studies (since 2008).
Professor Steineck’s work is informed by a sustained interest in symbolic form and how it relates to intellectual content. His 2014 monograph on Symbolic form and function (in German) contains a critical assessment of Cassirer’s seminal work and prepares the ground for future applications of this theory in the field of Japanese studies and beyond. A monograph on ancient Japanese mythologies is currently in press.
In recent years, Professor Steineck has organized collaborative work in the historiography of modern Japanese philosophy, concepts of authorship in pre-modern East Asian literatures, the rhetorical analysis of Japanese Buddhist texts, and a critical assessment of Marxian theory in postwar Japan. He has also contributed to a transcultural theory of time and is currently preparing a collaborative project on time in medieval Japanese society.
Martina Froehlich finished her Bachelor's degree in Japanese Studies and Environmental Sciences and was part of the PR team at the Zurich Film Festival 2020. While studying abroad in Osaka and Miyazaki, she worked as an Event Manager and travel writer for a Japanese startup. Passionate about anything Asia-, entertainment-, and Arts & Culture(s)-related, her mission is to bring people together and further the dialogue between different cultures, disciplines, and topics.
This event was organized in collaboration with the TIMEJ Project of the Universtity of Zurich.
About Talk at the Library
Talk at the Library is a members-only series where we invite an expert to our office library (or on Zoom), over lunch, for a conversation on specific niche topics on a variety of countries and regions of Asia. The program consists of a moderated discussion and subsequent audience Q&A. Participants opportunity interact with the experts, asking questions live or online.