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FRIDAY 19 March 2021

10am-4pm AEDT

Zoom Online Symposium


For over six-hundred years the samurai class held political and cultural dominance over the Japanese archipelago. Their acts of valour and ruthlessness as warriors became the foundations for new literary traditions and reinvented architectural styles. Their tastes as patrons and practitioners revolutionized the visual arts, both plastic and performing. While the ‘way of the samurai’ would not be codified until the 19th century, the distinctive culture of this social class stands out as a remarkably long-lasting force that would shape Japanese aesthetics, values, and identity. 


Today, samurai are a globally recognized and evocative symbol of Japan. Writers, artists and filmmakers continue to imbue the members of this dissolved class with old and new meanings. The figures champion a nostalgia for a lost, imagined past as well as serve as radical heroes whose sense of honour will right wrongs.


Organized by the Australasian Network for Asian Art (an4aa) in conjunction with ongoing Art Gallery of South Australia exhibition Samurai (ends March 28, 2021) and the University of Melbourne, this conference will explore the plural images evoked, cultivated, and inspired by the samurai.

For more information on the exhibition or online publication, please click here.

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featuring the following talks:

(listed in alphabetical order by speaker's name)

Under the light of the moon:​ Tsukioka Yoshitoshi and the transformation of warrior imagery


by Kit Brooks 

The Japan Foundation Assistant Curator of Japanese Art

National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institutions

Kit Brooks holds a PhD in Japanese art history from Harvard University (2017). Specialising in prints and paintings of the Edo and Meiji periods, Brooks’s primary research interests revolve around the re-evaluation of ‘eccentric’ artists of the eighteenth century, as well as the relationship between illustrated books and paintings. Brooks has held positions at the British Museum, Harvard Art Museums and the Children’s Museum in Boston. Brooks curated the exhibition Uncanny Japan: The Art of Yoshitoshi (1839–1892) at the Worcester Art Museum (2015) and co-curated Living Proof: Drawing in 19th-Century Japan at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (2017–18).

Gates without walls: A short history of Japanese fortifications or lack thereof


by Mark Erdmann

Lecturer in Art History

School of Culture & Communications

The University of Melbourne

Mark K. Erdmann is a Lecturer in Art History at the University of Melbourne. He received a doctorate in History of Art & Architecture from Harvard University (2016) and master’s in Japan Studies from SOAS, University of London (2001). Erdmann specialises in Japanese pre-modern architecture, particularly that of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, and the intersection of space, painting, carpentry and power. He is currently working on a book on Azuchi Castle and translating the early seventeenth-century secret carpenter manual Shōmei (Elucidation of the craft).

Remnants of samurai: Historical legacy and cultural significance in modern Japan


by Jonathan Glade

Lecturer In Japanese Studies

Asia Institute

The University of Melbourne

Jonathan Glade is a Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Melbourne. His research interests include modern Japanese and Korean literature, the post-Second World War occupation of Japan and southern Korea, and the globalisation of Japanese food.

The last samurai, Saigo Takamori (1828-1877), a tale of adulation and fabrication

by Jennifer Harris

Visiting Research Fellow

University of Adelaide

Dr Jennifer Harris’s doctorate in art history examined the formation of the Japanese art collection at the Art Gallery of South Australia within national and international contexts. She was formerly a teacher of Japanese language, and lecturer/ tutor in Japanese art history at the University of Adelaide, where she is a visiting research fellow. Her MA thesis examined the nineteenth-century calligrapher Ichikawa Beian. She is the author and curator of Netsuke and other miniatures from the Japanese Collection (2014) and The power of pattern: the Ayako Mitsui Collection (2015) at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Most recently, she was co-editor and contributor to the publication Exporting Japanese aesthetics: evolution from tradition to cool Japan (Sussex Academic, 2020).

Taking aim in the floating world: Depictions of the archery contest at Sanjūsangendō during the Edo period (1615-1868)


by Russell Kelty

Associate Curator, Asian Art

Art Gallery of South Australia

Russell Kelty is Associate Curator, Asian Art, at the Art Gallery of South Australia, where he has curated and contributed to major exhibitions and catalogues, including Samurai (2020–21), Edo style (2018–19), Chiharu Shiota: Embodied (2018), Ever blossoming: the flower in Japanese art and culture (2016) and Treasure ships: art in the Age of Spices (2015–16). He completed an MA in Art History at the University of Adelaide with a thesis that examined Vietnamese architectural tiles from the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries found in Indonesia. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Sydney, researching the depiction of foreign ships by Japanese artists during the Edo period (1615–1868). 

Masters of the digital realm: A short history of samurai in video games 

by Tets Kimura

Research Associate

Flinders University 

Dr Tets Kimura is Research Associate in Creative Arts at Flinders University, South Australia. His latest publications include Exporting Japanese aesthetics: evolution from tradition to cool Japan (2020, Sussex Academic Press), an edited collection that brings together historical and contemporary case studies addressing the evolution of the international impacts of Japanese culture. His current research activities focus on Japanese history in Australia, and Asian art and popular culture in modern history and contemporary society that (re)map and (re)construct Asian identities. He recently conducted an archival research at the National Library of Australia as a recipient of a 2021 Asia Study Grant.

The viper’s daughter/the demon’s wife: Dressing as Nohime in Sengoku basara 


by Emerald King

Lecturer in Japanese

Department of Languages and Linguistics

La Trobe University


Dr Emerald L. King is a Lecturer in Japanese at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Her research is divided between women in Japanese literature and reading costumes as text. Her recent work on cosplay is informed by her prizewinning costumes and focuses on costume construction as an act of fan translation. Her publications include ‘Sakura ga meijiru: unlocking the shōjo wardrobe – cosplay; manga; 2.5D space’, in Shōjo across media: multidisciplinary approaches (2019) and ‘Tailored translations – translating and transporting cosplay costumes across texts, cultures, and dimensions’, in Signata: Annales des sémiotiques/Annals of Semiotics 7 (2016). You can follow her work at

Cultivating the samurai imagination: The role of ink painting in garden design  


by Olivia Meehan

Object-Based Learning Co-ordinator

Arts Teaching Innovation (ATI)

The University of Melbourne


Olivia Meehan received an MPhil and a PhD in the History of Art from the University of Cambridge, King’s College. Her graduate research focused on the circulation of cultural material and ideas in early modern Europe and Japan. She has also trained at the V&A Museum London (International Initiatives) in Creating Innovating Learning Programmes. Since graduating, she has worked in museums and galleries and as lecturer and tutor in the history of art. Olivia’s current research focuses on imagination, reading and visual literacy.

The softer side of the samurai: Kamigata-e and the stars of the Osaka stage

by Peter Ujlaki 

Lecturer on Osaka Prints

Peter Ujlaki is a Japan-based writer and researcher of woodblock prints, with a focus on those created in Osaka during the nineteenth century and known as kamigata-e. He was born and raised in the United States and received an MA from Brown University prior to moving to Europe, and later, in 1980, to Japan. Roger Keyes introduced him to the wonders of kamigata-e and for thirty years he has written and lectured extensively in Japan and around the world about this little-known story within the world of ukiyo-e. In 2005 Peter established the website, which remains a primary source for information on this genre of prints.


jointly organised by


 HOME: Tenmyouya Hisashi, born Tokyo 1966, Conquest of the Karasu Tengu, from the series One hundred new ghost stories (shinkei hyaku monogatari: karasu tengu taiji no zu), 2005, Tokyo, inkjet print, edition of 50 © Tenmyouya Hisashi,  60.5 x 45.4 cm, Gift of M.J.M. Carter AO through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2020

EVENTS: Kobayashi Kiyochika, Japan, 1847 - 1915, Taira no Tadanori (1144–1184) resting under a cherry tree, 1884 (Meiji 17), Tokyo, woodblock print, ink and colour on paper, triptych, 36.5 x 25.5 cm (each sheet); d'Auvergne Boxall Bequest Fund 2013, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, photo: Stewart Adams. 

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