Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Queering the Everyday: Gender, Sexuality, and Affect in Contemporary Japanese Literature
by Ting, Grace En-Yi, Ph.D., Yale University, 2016, 228; 10160878
Abstract (Summary)

In my study, I argue that queer intimacies and affect can be found in mundane, largely heteronormative contexts of everyday life, namely of repetition and routine, as well as the home and the neighborhood. While they might often be ambivalent or contingent, in my chapters, I suggest in turn that forms of queerness are found in the monotonous repetition of daily rituals; random encounters, boredom, and aimlessness; romanticization of work in the family-owned restaurant; and the clichéd premise of the love triangle.

In doing so, I reconceptualize affects and public feelings in post-bubble Japan of the 1990's and early 2000's, which is often discussed with a focus on economic precarity and negative emotions. Importantly, I suggest a new, queer methodology for reading ways in which individuals "find sustenance" when lacking agency or power, drawing on Eve Kosofky Sedgwick's concept of reparative reading. These intimacies do not confront or transform the heteronormative framework, but question any concept of the totality or unimpeded assertion of dominant frameworks of gender and sexuality.

In the introduction, I introduce my readings of queer intimacies in mundane temporalities and spatialities. Following, I provide an overview of existing Japanese and English-language queer and feminist scholarship within Japanese literary studies to set apart my own approach. I comment upon the tendency to dismiss the banal everyday, and also look at ways in which recent work on affect and emotion in queer studies needs to take into consideration "non-Western" contexts such as Japan.

My first chapter, titled "Ogawa Yōko's Wondrous Everyday," emphasizes ways in which Ogawa's novel The Housekeeper and the Professor (Hakase no aishita sûshiki, 2003) portrays the mystique of queer intimacy built through banal routine in the home. In the second chapter, titled "Rhythms of Intimacy in Kawakami Hiromi's Texts," I point to ways in which Kawakami's depictions of the rhythms and affects—involving the unexpected, boredom, failure, and dry humor—emphasize the impact of minor events and emotions on our lives to unsettle any heteronormative expectations.

The third chapter, titled "Dreaming of Girls: Tender Stories of Nourishment by Yoshimoto Banana," shows dreams of female homosociality deeply intertwined with day and night in the work routine of food, so that desire for girls and the comfort of the everyday merge to form queer intimacies in Yoshimoto's works. My fourth and final chapter, titled "Ekuni Kaori's Brilliant Tears in the Night," presents my argument that a form of queer politics is found through the failure and depression of women in Ekuni's works, ultimately shown through the logic of tears throughout her texts.

In my conclusion, I suggest possibilities for future research directions, such as a more ambitious queer/feminist analysis of affect in post-bubble Japan, including 3.11 and its aftermath; publishing culture and its relation to affect for literature; and readings of the everyday in Murakami Haruki's works, seen on a global scale.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gerow, Aaron
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 78/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian literature, Womens studies, LGBTQ studies
Keywords: Affect, Gender, Japanese Literature, Sexuality, Women Writers
Publication Number: 10160878
ISBN: 978-1-369-15773-4
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