“The Democracy of Art”: Elizabeth Keith and the Aesthetic of the Eastern Ordinary

  • Tomoe Kumojima


This chapter offers a fresh perspective on the travel writing and artwork from East Asia of the British woman writer and woodblock artist, Elizabeth Keith. It focuses on Keith’s travelogues, Eastern Windows (1928) and Old Korea (1946), in conjunction with her visual artwork. Situating her work in the context of the intellectual and artistic trends of Interwar Japan, the chapter demonstrates how Keith’s political stance against Japanese colonial expansionism (in association with Japanese anti-militarist intellectuals of her time) is reflected in her aesthetic representation of ordinary lives under imperial threat, thereby illustrating the possibility of aesthetic democracy and transnational solidarity. Demonstrating how Keith’s works challenge the unidirectional model of cultural and intellectual traffic between East and West, the chapter is also an attempt to retrieve from obscurity the life and career of a unique graphic artist who worked at the interstices of two imperialisms and two traditions—British and Japanese.


Travel writing Woman traveler Empire of Japan Elizabeth Keith Woodblock prints Democracy of art Colonial Korea 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CORE of STEM and the International Exchange CentreNara Women’s UniversityNaraJapan

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