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ASIAN STUDIES CONFERENCE JAPAN

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ASCJ Executive Committee

Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181





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1999 June 26 conference

Room 301

12.Gender Politics in Modern Japanese and Chinese Literature:Male Critics and Women Writers

Organizer: Joan E. Ericson, The Colorado College

The participants of this panel will present an analysis of engagement of several modern women authors, including Higuchi Ichiyo (1872-96), Hayashi Fumiko (1903-51), Enchi Fumiko (1905-86), Ding Ling (1904-86), and Wang Anyi (1953-) with the gendered categorization of their work.The combination of both Japanese and Chinese subject matter will provide the opportunity to find commonalities in the two literary traditions.

1) Joan Ericson, The Colorado College."Adjusting to the Male Gaze: Male Critics and Japanese Women Writers"

Japanese women writers in the modern era have confronted a hostile reception by male literary critics. Categorized as writing in the separate style of "women's literature," most women writers have been marginalized by gendered terminology in literary criticism, as well as by the practices of the publishing industry. Yet many of the most prominent women writers sought both to conform and to subvert the literary conventions, and to recast their work in response to specific literary critics. Recent feminist research has revealed how even male patrons ofcelebrated Japanese female authors sought to edit their work to conform to the expectations of femininity. Through a focus on Horoki and other works by Hayashi Fumiko, this paper will explore how Hayashi subverted the male gaze in her writing.

2) Jiang Hong, The Colorado College."Body as Trope in Modern Chinese Literature"

In modern China, the search for a new subjectivity was carried out quite frequently in terms of capturing the identity crisis of the body.The ideological representation of the body was a theme not only in the works of female writers like Ding Ling and Wang Anyi, but also in the works of male writers such as Lu Xun (1881-1936) and Zhang Xianliang (1936 -). The (male-centered) self tended to posit his own dilemma of identity in relation to the "other," the woman in question.This paper thus intends to analyze the functioning of the objectifying mode of the body in the representation of self by male writers and female writers in 1920s and 1980s; as Luce Irigaray has said, "The body is not matter, but metaphor." This paper will also discuss the (male-centered) critics' different attitudes toward male writers and female writers on their exploring and  questioning body and sexual desire.

3) Seiko Yoshinaga, University of Pennsylvania."Gender Politics in Postwar Debates on Japanese Literature:Male Critics and Enchi Fumiko"

An analysis of two of the famous debates among Japanese intellectuals concerning postwar literature (sengo bungaku) -- its relation to politics, and its relation to the nation -- shows how the critical meta-narrative was shaped by an unacknowledged subtext of gender politics.The postwar responses to Enchi Fumiko's works provide a good illustration of the gender politics underlying these intellectual debates.Through an analysis of her works, we can see what male intellectuals thought about women writers or women's writing in that period; what kind of literature they had in mind when discussing "modern literature" (kindai shosetsu); and what they thought about "postwar literature" in particular.Enchi herself was aware that the production and criticism of literature was done for the most part by male standards, and that as a result her own image as well as that of other women writers was constructed by these literary standards.

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