Organizer: Leslie Winston, University of California, Los Angeles
Chair: James A. Fujii, University of California, Irvine
Discussant: Yoichi Komori, University of Tokyo
The Meiji period saw enormous flux in gender norms, as the traditional partriarchal social and political systems were replaced by new ones. The transformation was neither instantaneous nor smooth, and included many false starts and moments of ambiguity and indeterminacy. The papers on our panel take up this transformation, looking at both the relative fluidity that existed in mid-Meiji, before the installation of a modern hegemonic gender system, and the hegemonic patterns that would begin to emerge in late Meiji. In both cases, the papers in this panel explore the instabilities and impossibilities in important literary texts that would haunt the various models for gendering that competed for hegemony in Meiji Japan. Michael Bourdaghs explores the depiction of male and female writing in Shimazaki T˘sons works, especially Haru (1907). Christine Marran analyzes new narratives of sexology and the male/female dichotomy that develops in such texts of Meiji 8-20, showing that they are not ultimately incorporated into modern visions of sex and gender because of the historical/political situation of Japan in the first two decades of Meiji. The construction of a hegemonic masculinity through the trope of bushido and samurai spirit will be the focus of Michele Masons talk. Leslie Winston will examine a range of female subjectivities in work by Higuchi Ichiy˘ and Shimizu Shikin and the significance of the engendering of these two writers. Through these papers, our discussant Komori Yoichi, of Tokyo University, will take a broad view of the role of gender in Meiji literature vis-Ó-vis nation-building and government projects to build a citizenry in conformity with the new Japanese nation.
Women Doing the Write Thing: Representations of Higuchi Ichiy˘ and Shimizu Shikin
Leslie Winston, University of California, Los Angeles
During the third decade of Meiji, women grappled with writing as a profession and with the form the modern novel was taking. The work of Higuchi Ichiy˘ and Shimizu Shikin is indicative of different narrative and language styles employed in the development of the novel. The term joryű bungaku (womens literature) is premised on the belief that the newly created norm, "bungaku," was the intellectual pursuit of men, and the writing of women was more of an emotional bent. Thus, joryű bungaku emerges as the "other," which helps consolidate hegemonic, male-dominated bungaku. Often derogatory and clearly inadequate as a category, the term implies that a womans hand is monolithic in its production of literature.
In this paper I will investigate the production of gender in the writing of Ichiy˘ and Shikin and the discourse of gender as related to them as writers. If gender can be conceptualized "both as representation and as self-representation," and "the product of social technologies...and of institutionalized discourses," then writing as a technology and the discourse that surrounds it allow for an analysis of the engendering of the subject. In taking up writing as a profession, Ichiy˘ and Shikin were two women entering a masculine domain. Ichiy˘ is positioned differently than other female writers, as patriarch and head of household. Yet, she was told to write as a woman, as her fathers daughter, by Nakarai T˘sui, who criticized her style for being too rough. For her part, Shikin wrote to support herself, even after her marriage, as her husband was studying abroad. Her writing career ended one year after her husband returned.
In Ichiy˘s Jusanya, (1895) and Shikins T˘sei futari musume, (1897), language, style, and narration enhance characterization and theme. Ichiy˘s narrative has Oseki reveal a deeply ambivalent female subject-position through her intertwining of voices. Shikin positions the third-person narrator of T˘sei futari musume as one removed from the story, and while dramatizing the need for improved education for women and for womens rights, Shikin satirizes marriage and naive young women. The representation of the subject-positions of characters and of Ichiy˘ and Shikin themselves is their construction.
Becoming a Man: Gender and Genre in Shimazaki T˘sons Spring
Michael Bourdaghs, University of California, Los Angeles
Recent theories of gender have addressed the connections between rhetoric and performance in the construction of masculinity and femininity, linking gender and genre in new and provocative ways. This paper explores the writings of Shimazaki T˘son, in particular the novel Spring (Haru, 1907), to reveal how genre became used as a device to gender writing under the modern forms of patriarchy that arose in late Meiji. Kishimoto Sutekichi, the protagonist of Spring, becomes literary executor and heir to a number of written works, by both male and female writers. I will explore the ways in which these works are assigned to genres, and the variety of relationships Kishimoto establishes between himself and these works as he struggles to become both a writer and a man. By exploring this and other works by T˘son (including subsequent novels that continue the story of Kishimoto), I hope to sketch out ways in which late Meiji saw three forms of identitygender, nationality, and authorshipset in a relationship of mutual reinforcement. I will also trace through the gaps and contradictions that this system inevitably produced, as well as some of the strategies that evolved to mask them.
Nitobe Inazos Bushid˘: The Soul of Japan: The Gendering of a Nation
Michele Mason, University of California, Irvine
Nitobes Bushid˘: The Soul of Japan (1900, 1905) reached best-seller status at a time when Japan could boast of two strong military victories, one of which was over a Western nation. The West had not overlooked Japans surprising military accomplishments, as is evidenced by, for example, the fact that Britain, starting in 1903, sent numerous officers to train with Japanese regiments, analyze their military operations, and during the Russo-Japanese war, accompany them on naval missions. Ostensibly, Bushid˘: The Soul of Japan was written to explain why certain "ideas and customs prevail in Japan," but Nitobe clearly wanted to accomplish something beyond a mere interpretation of Japanese society. He proudly celebrates the historical moment when Japan can leave behind the stereotype as an "uncivilized and immoral" country, and not only join advanced nations, but become a model for them as well. Moreover, he relishes locating the secret of Japans success in a masculine, native source, the samurai spirit or bushid˘.
In this paper, I will discuss Nitobes construction of the masculine ideal of bushid˘ and how it is said to animate the Japanese nation and its subjects in Bushid˘: The Soul of Japan. The concept of masculinity hardly exists in a vacuum, as can be seen not only in Nitobes longest chapter, "The Training and Position of Woman," but also in his ambivalent gendering of the samurai character. Nitobe writes of one of the seven sources of bushid˘, Mercy, "a tender virtue and mother-like." "If upright Rectitude and Justice were peculiarly masculine, Mercy had the gentleness and the persuasiveness of the feminine nature." I will contextualize bushid˘, the text and concept, within the discourse on masculinity of the day. This project will also entail making connections to Nitobes influence on constructions of masculinity during his stint as principal of the Tokyo Higher School from 1906 to 1911 and his participation in penning colonial policy for Taiwan and beyond.
Popular Sexological Narrative in Early Japan
Christine Marran, Princeton University
The Japanese translation and revision, for a popular audience, of James Ashtons The Book of Nature in 1875 and 1876 triggered the sudden development of a body of sexological literature generally referred to as z˘kakiron (after the original translated title Z˘kakiron). Most scholarship on z˘kakiron tends to consider them as the misfired origin of modern sexological knowledge in Japan. To analyze the introduction of z˘kakiron within a broader chronological history of modern sexology as a preliminary, fledgling flight of modern sexological discourse, however, does little to clarify the contemporary significance of the z˘kakirons popularity and runs the risk of misrepresenting them as having introduced a repressive element into modern sexual discoursea claim for which, from the point of view of consumption, there is little evidence. To understand the impact of these new constructions of the sexed body, it makes more sense to examine the dispersal of this new knowledge at the moment of its appearance rather than to place them within the broader framework of sexological history.
The emergence of texts offering the "truth" about the body in the midst of an expanding discursive space involving formalized Enlightenment thought and an informal ethos of progressivism is, on the one hand, illustrative of the appeal of practical knowledge at this time. In popular narrative, however, that "knowledge" gets deflated to become "curiosity." The wide consumption of sexological texts signals an interest, motivated specifically by contemporary progressivism and Enlightenment thought, in the empirical, as well as an ethos of "curiosity" through which empirical and positivistic knowledge gets objectified as novel. Tracing the circulation of new sexological knowledge and the status of empirical truth in popular narrative, I will show that it is precisely through this "dialogue" between the positivistic representations of bodies and their reinscription and abstraction in popular narrative, that the sexes get constituted in the early Meiji period.