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Intermediality the focus of new research partnership between Scotland and Japan

We talk to Fabien Arribert-Narce and Matthis Hervieux about a new collaboration with Meiji University in Tokyo.

The Universities of Edinburgh and Meiji have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that promotes co-operation in research and impact activities, primarily in the field of 'intermediality'.

Photo of cherry blossom in Japan
New beginnings - spring blossom in Japan. Image taken by Fabien Arribert-Narce on a research trip to Tokyo.

The partnership is the formalisation of a relationship that started in September 2019, when Fabien Arribert-Narce, a Lecturer in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), gave a talk at a Tokyo Humanities Café.

Tokyo Humanities is a non-profit group connecting Tokyo-based academics and their work to wider audiences. Its popular Café series is organised by Alex Watson, who is based in Meiji University’s School of Arts and Letters.

As Fabien explains, “Tokyo Humanities is a great networking and outreach project bringing together academics, artists, writers, etc. and, within Japan, does exactly the things we would like to do on an international scale”.

Convergence of research interests

Meiji University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Japan. When developing the Memorandum of Understanding, Fabien was particularly struck by the convergence of research interests between LLC and Meiji’s School of Arts and Letters, where subjects include Drama and Theatre Arts, Literary Arts and Media, Japanese, French, German, British and American Literature.

In particular, both Schools align in their strategies and objectives around the study of ‘intermediality’, that is, the interactions between different art forms and their signification.

In partnership, the Schools are working on an inaugural publication on the interrelationships between image, music and text, taking the work of Roland Barthes as a starting point, and will then move on to organising workshops, film screenings, art exhibitions, live performances, etc., held alternatingly in Edinburgh and Tokyo.

All of these great new research and knowledege exchange opportunities will allow us to deepen our understanding, from an interdisciplinary and intercultural perspective, of the theory and practice of ‘intermediality’.

Fabien Arribert-Narce, Lecturer

Extraordinary benefits for students

As well as a growing interest in intermedial studies in Japan and in the West, Fabien has noticed a “strong interest in Japanese art and culture among postgraduate students working on intermedial topics in LLC – students such as Matthis Hervieux, Beata Migut (working on Yoko Tawada), and Luyue Wang (working on José Juan Tablada), as well as those based in Asian Studies”.

Through the partnership with Meiji, and through a new taught masters programme in Intermediality (co-directed with Professor Marion Schmid), Fabien is delighted to be able to offer this growing community “new ways of creating networks with their peers and engaging with scholars and artists coming from Japan – the country of highly intermedial art forms such as manga, Bunraku puppet theatre and haiga, illustrated haiku poems.”

Matthis Hervieux is currently completing a PhD in Comparative Literature in LLC researching intermedial aspects of Franco-Japanese encounters. He is one of around ten academics (both established and early career researchers) whose work will feature in the partnership’s inaugural publication.

Asked what the partnership means for students, he said: "It’s an exciting prospect for all students interested in intermediality. As a PhD candidate, I feel privileged to be able to contribute a paper to the opening publication, and I know that students will reap extraordinary benefits from the unique opportunities created by our collaboration with Meiji University.”

No matter what aspects of intermediality interest you, you will be able to discuss ideas with - and take part in projects involving - researchers, students and practitioners across the whole palette of intermedial studies.

Matthis Hervieux, PhD candidate

Are you interested in studying Intermediality?

As the first UNESCO World City of Literature, home of the Edinburgh International Festival and a major cultural hub, Edinburgh is the ideal place for the study of intermediality. Our new, one-year taught masters programme draws on world-class teaching and research expertise across media, from literature to film, music, painting, photography and visual culture more widely. The programme will make you conversant with intermedial theory and equip you with the critical tools and historical background for understanding and analysing a wide range of intermedial phenomena across different periods and cultures. It can also be completed part-time over two years.

Find out more about our intermediality programme on Degree Finder

Related links

Research in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures