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Breaking out of the National myth: Imagining New Mythical Space in the Works of Shōno Yoriko

Japanese literature, both classical and modern, is abundant with gods, divinities and supernatural beings. Implementation of mythical tropes and images has been used to various ends and effects in Japanese modern fiction. For instance, Faye Yuan Kleeman has shown that it was used as a narrative technique that helped the writers to break out of naturalistic mode of writing and Susan Napier demonstrated it was also instrumental in dealing with anxieties raised by various aspects of modernity and post-modernity in Japan. 

In this talk I will discuss the works of contemporary writer Shōno Yoriko (1956- ), who actively engages with figures of Japanese imperial mythology and with the imperial hegemonic narrative as well as with relatively minor divinities and medieval syncretic deities. By doing so, Shōno unleashes a harsh criticism of contemporary Japanese society, including such issues as emperor system, neo-liberalism and gender inequality.  In this talk I will focus mainly on the gender aspect and will show that by engaging the various deities and re-imagining ancient narratives, Shōno is able to open up new imaginative spaces for female existence, while at the same time interrogating the very notion of “femaleness”. 


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