This panel analyzes the composition of noh texts on bibliographical, linguistic, and narratological levels. Examining their publication/circulation system, unique rhetoric, and fusion of narration and characters' speeches, we offer new theoretical frameworks for Japanese traditional drama.
Texts of noh plays—utaibon—have varied functions: libretti, musical scores for chanting, dramatic poetry for readers, and a medium that creates a sense of community among professional and amateur practitioners. Previous studies on noh, however, have not fully explored these multiple functions of noh texts, which must have determined the processes of the creation, performance, and reception of noh plays.
This panel examines this multi-layered composition of noh texts, applying varied theoretical approaches. Takamitsu Ikai's paper "Study on the Text Transformation of Noh: How the Medium of Print Affected the Texts" demonstrates the dynamics of the transmission, publication, and circulation processes of utaibon from the late medieval to the early modern period. It examines the process by which Kurumaya utaibon was published, revealing how the libretti of noh were transformed through the publishing process and according to the environment in which noh chanting was enjoyed by the public, in the period when the primary materials for instructing noh chanting shifted from handwritten copies to printed texts.
Taro Yokoyama's paper "Poetics of Chained Sentences: Kakekotoba and Engo in Noh Texts" scrutinizes verses typically seen in noh, in which each sentence is merged into the following one, each remaining grammatically incomplete. Rhetorical devices such as kakekotoba (povot words) and engo (correlative words) play a particularly crucial role in it. Careful analysis reveals how the linguistic peculiarities of Japanese affect the rhetoric in noh texts as well as our own experience of the art of noh.
Akiko Takeuchi's paper "Whose Words (and to Whom)?: Fusion of Narration and Characters' Speeches in Noh" examines narration and its fusion with characters' speeches in Zeami's deity plays and warrior plays, while applying theater semiotics and narratology. It reveals Zeami's careful manipulation of narrative style, according to the play's socio-religious purposes.
By combining these bibliographical, linguistic, and narratological approaches to noh texts, we aim to reconsider the interactions of their different aspects as well as to offer new theoretical frameworks for Japanese traditional drama.