Historicizing Japan's Abject Femininity

DUMAS, Raechel
January 2013
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies;2013, Vol. 40 Issue 2, p247
Academic Journal
Throughout Japan's long history the female body has occupied an axiomatic role in the literary transmission and subversion of normative culture values, frequently being ambivalently figured as an object of simultaneous desire and disgust. Although commonly deployed Western theoretical modes offer a number of potentially fruitful avenues of inquiry into the problem of the feminine within the Japanese cultural imagination, in attempting to theorize these representational trends it is crucial also to consider the manner in which women have been envisioned historically within Japan. This article examines constructions of the female body within Japan's earliest setsuwa collection, Nihon ryōiki, whose compilation marks a pivotal moment in the proliferation of Buddhist doctrine within Japan. In doing so, it seeks to locate intersections between modern theoretical discourses on the abject feminine and the ambivalent treatment of women's bodies within early Japanese literature and culture.


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