Organizer: Richard H. Okada, Princeton University
Chair: Terry Kawashima, Wesleyan University
Discussant: Mark Morris, Cambridge University
Numerous instances of "exile" as a trope can be found in literature from the Heian and Kamakura periods in Japan. Narratives position the act in various ways: as a fall from power, a reason for transforming oneself into a vengeful spirit, a period of trial which enables the eventual return of the exiled figure to the location of authority with increased charisma, a poetic exercise, or a combination of the above. The implications of exile have caught the attention of modern scholars; however, there has been no thorough investigation of the trope with reference to recent theories of diasporic movement and the exilic condition. This panel seeks to break new ground in the study of Heian and Kamakura literature by carefully reconsidering the complex discursive strategies of exile and the politics/poetics of "place."
Each of the papers focuses on a specific example of exile. Richard Okada will examine of the ways in which the trope is invoked and resituated in the Tale of Genji, and how "exile" itself signifies an ontologically exclusionary practice characteristic of both Heian and contemporary discursive productions. Terry Kawashima considers the relationship between regionality, political authority, and literary capital in her investigation of the figure of Fujiwara no Sanekata; her paper highlights the extent to which the textual construction of "exile" represents a tangled, purposeful intermingling of these discourses. Finally, Edith Sarra takes the panel into the Kamakura period with her discussion of Towazugataris gendered and strategic references to the "tradition" of exile.
Imagining Exile in Early Japan: The Taketori Monogatari
Jonathan Stockdale, University of Chicago
The theme of exile recurs throughout early Japanese texts, appearing in the earliest chronicles, poetry collections, monogatari, and of course, legal codes. More than simply reflecting the commonness of exile as a punitive act, however, many texts reveal an impulse to imaginatively explore exile, as when they narrate the banishment of gods from the heavenly plain, of celestial beings from the moon, and of political figures who turn into vengeful deities. This paper argues that the popularity of the theme of exile stems partly from its usefulness as a device for asserting, commenting upon, and at times, subverting bounderiesincluding not only politico-moral boundaries between sanctioned and prohibited actions, but also politico-spatial boundaries between the early Japanese court and its competing peripheries.
In this paper I engage one such narrative, The Taketori Monogatari, which is often explored as a work displaying strong continental influences from Buddhism and Daoism. By situating the Taketori alongside contemporary law codes as well as the tales fictional precursors, I argue that the storyconcerning a princess from the moon consigned to a term on earth because of an earlier transgression (tsumi)must also be viewed in the framework of early Japanese narratives of exile. In imagining the world of the court as the peripheral locus of the princess exile, and in portraying an emperor, military, and aristocracy virtually powerless before the celestial moon beings, I argue that the Taketori employs the exile motif to comment subversively on the situation at court at the time of its composition.
The Tale of Genji and the Exilic Condition
Richard H. Okada, Princeton University
The Heian period was marked by a number of stunning examples of exile, highlighted by the celebrated cases of Sugawara no Michizane and Minamoto Takaakira. It is not surprising, therefore, that a text that traces boundariesbetween, for example, "history" and "fiction" or "center" and "periphery"like the Tale of Genji would inscribe an instance of exile (Suma and Akashi) that clearly participates in the intertexts of both history and poetry. The Genji narrative, however, re-marks the situation of exile in any number of ways, especially the best-known Heian exilic topos of Dazaifu and for both men and women. It suggests the extent to which the experience of exile was an integral part of the imagination of Murasaki Shikibu and her father, Fujiwara no Tametoki, as well as other courtiers of the time. My aim here is to interrogate the permutations of exile in the narrative and to relate the situation to a condition of discursive practice, including that of contemporary scholarship in Japan, that is always constituted by acts of exclusion.
The Literary Politics of Exile: Fujiwara no Sanekata and the Poetics of the "Regional"
Terry Kawashima, Wesleyan University
What is the relationship between the discursive constructions of literary, political, and religious capital, regionality as a topos, and exile? This paper investigates this question through an examination of the figure of Fujiwara no Sanekata (?988). Texts ranging from Konjaku monogatari, Kojidan, to Genpei seisuiki paint him as a charismatic paramour and poet known, among other events, for his association with Sei Sh˘nagon. He became engaged in a dispute with another courtier, and as a result of his bad behavior during this skirmish, Emperor Ichijo sent him away to Mutsu to serve as provincial governor and ordered him to "go view at the utamakura ("poem-pillow") there." He is said to have met his end in that region after failing to show appropriate respect for a local deity. I seek to locate the significance of Sanekatas exile vis-Ó-vis court politics, the dynamics of "regional" and "central" authorities, and the role of poetic power; I will show the ways in which the trope of exile permits both the consolidation and the fragmentation of these seemingly disparate problematics in the Heian and early Kamakura periods, and will reconsider the paradigm of kishu ryűritan ("narratives about nobility in exile") in modern scholarship.
The Politics of Literary Self-Presentation: Banishment and Poetic Pilgrimage in Towazugatari
Edith Sarra, Indiana University
At two crucial junctures in the course of her memoir, Towazugatari (A Tale No One Asked For, after 1306), the memoirist, Gofukakusain Nij˘ invokes the image of the late Heian poet-monk Saigy˘. The allusion to Saigy˘ is a loaded one. It prompts the reader toward a certain framework from which to view Nij˘s political fate within Retired Emperor Gofukakusas circle. It also provides one of the key images within a network of images the memoirist employs to describe and validate her own literary activity, including in particular the memoir itself. Starting with and returning to her invocation of the figure of Saigy˘, this paper will address some of the various images of exile engaged by Nij˘s memoir. Many of these images recall a poetics of exile inherited from the history and literature of the Heian court. Using inter- and intratextual reading strategies, my analysis will highlight how Nij˘s self-presentation draws upon and responds to the destabilized configurations of power characterizing her political milieux at Gofakakusains court, where she served as a consort (until her fall from favor), and at Kamakura (and in the provinces), where she traveled after taking Buddhist vows and becoming a nun.