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Durham e-Theses
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Re-situating the body : history, myth, and the contemporary women's writings in English and Japanese

Miyasaka, Natsumi Ikoma (2002) Re-situating the body : history, myth, and the contemporary women's writings in English and Japanese. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis analyses contemporary literary attempts by Western and Japanese writers to defy patriarchal control over the female body. Situating the female body through myth, religion, and various forms of art as "grotesque" is Western culture's means of control over nature. Contrary to this, Japanese culture originally had more harmonious concepts of the mind and body, but was transformed into a similar pattern to that of the West. During the period of cultural transformation, one example of literary resistance by woman writers appeared as the Tale of Genji, arguably the first novel in the world, which uses an ambiguous narrative method and the concept of the grotesque body. Contemporary women's writings still employ similar strategies, though more direct and effective. From the beginning of the twentieth century and through the development of consumer society, more bodies are regarded as "grotesque" but there are also cultural exchanges in the world which seek to subvert such tendencies. Despite unmistakable cultural differences between western and Japanese representations, they often influence each other and draw on similar strategies. Both use the motif of the grotesque body to create a reverse discourse, and to re-situate the body, as the symbol of the retrieval of a "natural" and sexual body which is found in Japanese Myth. English and Japanese women writers also manoeuvre to strike a balance between fantastic and more conventional narrative modes. Though the majority of Japanese writers are still working within a broadly realistic mode, those writers analysed here use fantastic mode as a weapon of formal and ideological subversion. The writers analysed include Angela Carter (who lived in Japan), Margaret Atwood, Fay Weldon, Muriel Spark, Yuko Matsumoto, Rieko Matsuura, Yoriko Shono, Yumiko Kurahashi. Their work is situated in relation to earlier imaginative writing, myth, legend and examples of the Gothic mode.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Literature Mass media Performing arts
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2002
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Jul 2011 17:39

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