Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Autonomy and Dependency Relationships in Poetry and Fiction by Tomioka Taeko and Itō Hiromi
by Tilton-Cantrell, Ellen Crystal, Ph.D., Yale University, 2013, 303; 3578464
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores the topic of relational autonomy in the literary work of Tomioka Taeko and Itō Hiromi. In particular, this study considers the ways that autonomy is constrained by dependency relationships in recent Japanese society. Both writers probe the complex power dynamics and tensions within dependency relationships, especially parent-child relationships, examining the issue of autonomy from various perspectives. This study argues that through their treatment of autonomy, Tomioka and Itō both engage in social critique and reflect on tensions between individual desire and responsibility toward others that are basic to human experience. Tomioka and Itō criticize ideals of family structure and gender roles that restrict women's autonomy. They also explore the psychological and emotional ramifications of such ideals through their nuanced depiction of relationships between caregivers and dependents.

Chapter one argues that throughout her works, Tomioka criticizes "beautified" illusions and ideologies while emphasizing human "animality," the impulses that collective illusions are intended to mask. The chapter examines these two related tendencies within the context of reproduction, sexual violence, and family. Chapter two, also focused on Tomioka, turns to mother-centered notions of domesticity and the obligation to care, and daughters who respond to their mother's unhappiness and seek autonomy for themselves. Chapter three argues that Itō's literary work and advice books combat an oppressive myth of home and of idealized parenting, sometimes focusing on destructive parental impulses, sometimes offering nuanced portrayals of loving but imperfect parents. Chapter four, which examines works by Itō about eldercare and the end of life, primarily focuses on shifting patterns of dependency throughout the life cycle and on the desire of vulnerable dependents for autonomy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Treat, John Whittier
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 75/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian literature, Asian Studies, Literature
Keywords: Autonomy, Dependency, Ito Hiromi, Japanese poetry, Parent-child relationship, Tomioka Taeko
Publication Number: 3578464
ISBN: 978-1-303-71566-2
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