Ayako Kano

Andrew W. Mellon Penn Faculty Fellow in the Humanities

20142015 Forum on Color

Ayako Kano

Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures

Ayako Kano is Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. She is also a member of the Graduate Group in History, and in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, as well as core faculty member in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. She received her B. A. in British literature from Keio University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Cornell University.

Fading out and Blending in Erotic Colors: A Cultural History of Japanese Discursive Paradigms on Sexuality

“Fading Out and Blending In Erotic Colors” will trace the rise and fall of three different paradigms in the Japanese discourse on sexuality, intersecting at different moments with the concept of "color." The first of these paradigms, “erotic color" (iro) is associated with classical Chinese and Buddhist terminology, and was dominant in medieval and early modern Japan. I will investigate the interaction of erotic, chromatic, and musical connotations of the Japanese term "iro." This paradigm was gradually replaced by modern Western notions of biological “sex" (sei), which in turn was challenged and widened into notions of “eros” (erosu) and “sexuality" (sekushuariti). Aspects of “color” return in this recent paradigm, enhancing the polymorphous diversity of contemporary sexual life.