Dr. Robert W. Barrett, Jr.
University of Illinois, English
"Cherry Trees and More-than-Human Animacies in Zeami's Saigyō-zakura and the N-Town Nativity"
There is an unusual congruence between two fifteenth-century plays—the Japanese playwright Zeami’s Saigyō-zakura and the anonymous N-Town Nativity—from opposite ends of the Eurasian continent. Despite their geographical and cultural distance from one another, both plays feature an elderly man (the hermit poet Saigyō in Zeami, the carpenter Joseph in N-Town) whose anthropocentric life is disrupted by an encounter with a miraculous animate cherry tree. This talk will explore the implications of these more-than-human intrusions for not only the study of the so-called Global Middle Ages but also our current Anthropocene dilemma.