Joseph T. Sorensen, University of California at Davis
In Optical Allusions: Screens, Paintings, and Poetry in Classical Japan (ca. 800-1200), Joseph T. Sorensen illustrates how, on both the theoretical and the practical level, painted screens and other visual art objects helped define some of the essential characteristics of Japanese court poetry. In his examination of the important genre later termed screen poetry, Sorensen employs ekphrasis (the literary description of a visual art object) as a framework to analyze poems composed on or for painted screens. He provides close readings of poems and their social, political, and cultural contexts to argue the importance of the visual arts in the formation of Japanese poetics and poetic conventions.