Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Japanese literature as World Literature: Visceral engagement in the writings of Tawada Yoko and Shono Yoriko
by Tierney, Robin Leah, Ph.D., The University of Iowa, 2010, 252; 3422246
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation argues that the writings of the contemporary Japanese writers Tawada Yoko (1960-) and Shono Yoriko (1956-) should be understood as literature that is commenting upon global processes and should therefore be categorized within the newly re-deployed category of “World Literature.” In the first chapter I explore the political project of Shono Yoriko’s fictional and polemical writings. Shono uses the bundan (literary establishment) as a platform for her critique of neo-liberal economic trends and launches a campaign that is both global in scope and kyoku-shi (hyper-personal) in tone. She counters universally applicable socio-economic trends with intensely personal myths and private vendettas against public intellectuals who deny the value of non-profit-grossing “serious” literature. In chapter two I perform a close reading of her 2004 novel Kompira as well as her busu mono (ugly tales). Kompira, I argue, is both a historical narrative of a particular kompira kami (deity) and the postulating of a system of resistance that involves hybridity and embodiment.

While Tawada Yoko is most often identified as a border-crossing, multi-lingual writer who publishes in both German and Japanese, in chapter three I argue that this “identity” threatens to eclipse the ways in which she investigates the bodily reception of language. My claim is that Tawada’s interstitial explorations pose translation and bodily coding as inherent to language acquisition in general and suggests that all words carry their own libidinal imprint. In chapter four I argue that Tawada mines bodily processes for her representational strategies. In Tawada’s texts the unraveling of national and masculine aesthetics forms a critical part of decoding the body as a fixed and gendered entity. When Tawada positions the male body as an object of tactile inquiry and explores the bodily-confusion-with-another inherent in the process of ovulation as a narrative drive, I see a re-working of corporeal and cognitive logics. This reworking, I contend, is not a conclusive “righting of wrongs” but an invitation to join in the ongoing process of articulating difference in a potentially post-national world.

In exploring the oeuvre of both Shono and Tawada this dissertation begins to chart an emerging field of contemporary Japanese literature in which writers craft an imaginary that accounts for both global processes and one-off particular bodies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Robertson, Maureen
Commitee: Copeland, Rebbecca, Hurley, Adrienne, Kuenzli, Rudolf, Ungar, Steven, Vlastos, Stephen
School: The University of Iowa
Department: Comparative Literature
School Location: United States -- Iowa
Source: DAI-A 71/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern literature, Asian literature, Womens studies
Keywords: Japan, Shono, Yoriko, Tawada, Yoko, World Literature
Publication Number: 3422246
ISBN: 9781124209555
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