Gathering Plum Blossoms

Literature Courses
Bird and Plum Blossoms, Muromachi period (1392-1573), by Giboku (Japanese, approx.. 1500-1550). Ink, colors, and gold on paper. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1988.29. Photograph © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Gathering Plum Blossoms

John Wallace
Repeats every week until Sun Apr 30 2023 except Sun Apr 23 2023.
April 9, 2023
Apr. 9 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.; Apr. 16 & Apr. 30 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Zoom Webinars
Late registration fees are $85 per person Society members; $110 per person non-members for the course. Advance registration closed on Apr. 2, 2023.

Advance registration for this course is now closed. If you are interested in doing a late registration, please sign up here. You will have access to the recordings of each class. Please email the SAA Office Manager if you have any questions. Thank you.

We are excited to offer a literature course with Dr. John Wallace, whose current writing project is a five-volume critical work on Japanese poems ancient and modern, titled Gathering Plum Blossoms. Dr. Wallace is close to finishing the first volume, and we will read together from this online work-in-progress. Select poems from premodern and modern times—haiku, tanka, and free verse—are considered from various angles. Volume One primarily concerns themes of anxiety, impermanence, and love. Some of the poets are quite famous, others not. There are ten "core" poems we will consider closely and twenty-six secondary poems that support understanding the central ten. We will read from five chapters. Dr. Wallace will introduce the importance of relating a Japanese poem's "top" to its "bottom" and share other approaches he uses for effectively engaging Japanese poems. Each chapter has a glossary for those who would like to read the core poems in Japanese.

John Wallace is Continuing Senior Lecturer, Emeritus, in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley, where he taught premodern Japanese language and literature, modern Japanese literature and East Asian traditions. He received his PhD from Stanford University. He is also an SAA Advisor and has taught several Literature and Culture courses in the past.

Course Outline
Session One: Lecture that introduces the book project, and Dr. Wallace's interpretive approaches
Session Two: Gathering Plum Blossoms, Chapters 1-2 *Available online April 1-May 15
Session Three: Gathering Plum Blossoms, Chapters 3-5 *Available online April 8-May 15


The course is organized as 3 separate Zoom webinars. A Zoom webinar confirmation email with information on how to join the webinar for each class will be sent to all registered attendees 2 or 3 days before each class. Even though it is not required by Zoom, we recommend that you download and install Zoom on your computer or mobile device in advance, and set yourself up with a free account. Attendees will have a chance to participate in the discussions. Attendees will also have access to the videos of the Zoom webinars for a limited period of time.

Registration Policies

The Society for Asian Art's cancellation policy requires at least one week's advance written notice in order to receive a refund of registration fees. This excludes our Travel programs, which have separate cancellation policies, as well as any programs where a specific refund policy is stated on the event page. Your fees will be returned to you through a check in the mail. To cancel, please contact us.

For programs located within the Asian Art Museum, the museum entrance fee must be paid separately and is not included with your registration fee.

Please note that by registering for a program, you are giving consent to the SAA to be photographed or videoed as a participant.