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シンポジウム「The Woman in the Story: Female Protagonism in Japanese Narratives」

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  • シンポジウム



The Woman in the Story: Female Protagonism in Japanese Narratives

This symposium examines the position of women in stories told in Japan from ancient to contemporary times. Although our main focus is on female protagonists in literary narratives, we are also interested in the function of narrative in ostensibly non-literary discourses (historical, religious, legal, political) and across different kinds of media. Unlike other categories of identity that are indisputably modern (such as race, class, or sexual orientation), gender/sex has existed as a legal category in Japan since at least the eighth-century ritsury? codes. It would thus seem reasonable to posit (cautiously and critically) “women” as a trans-historical category, even as the cultural significance of womanhood has been subject to change over time.

As the experience of structural positions gendered as female (mother, daughter, wife, nun, etc) has varied greatly throughout history, so have the ways in which women have represented themselves or been represented in narrative. Feminist narrative theory?like narrative theory in general?has traditionally focused on the figure of the narrator and the question of who gets to speak. While this is also an important question for us, our focus is primarily on women as the protagonists of narratives and on the question of who gets to act. It is by virtue of those actions that women (whether real or fictional) have their story told by others and indeed tell their own stories.

Proceeding from a definition of “protagonism” as the degree to which a character is central to the plot or action of a narrative, we seek to explore questions such as (but not limited to) the following:

What is the relationship between literary narratives that feature female protagonists and narratives about women as historical or political actors (i.e., the degree to which women are regarded as central to historical or political events and processes)?

In cases where women are underrepresented as main characters, can women who play minor or supporting roles in a story be analyzed as characters whose protagonism is structurally restricted or shaped by narrative conventions? What is the relationship between social and narrative conventions of exclusion?

What happens when a woman or a female character is placed at the center of a type or genre of narrative that usually features male protagonists? Does the gender of the protagonist or main character change the type or genre of the story? If a protagonist is the character that drives the plot of a story, are plots gendered?

What are the gender politics of the complex relationship between author, narrator, and protagonist of a text?

What is the relationship between the ways that women are portrayed in written narratives and how they are portrayed in visual media?

How is female protagonism affected by other categories and relational forms of identity, both modern (race, class, sexual orientation), and premodern (lineage, rank, occupational status)?

What is our role in creating new scholarly narratives in which women are central actors?

How can new scholarly perspectives on this topic help us engage with the gender politics of the field of Japanese studies in North America and of our contemporary world?


2019年3月13日~15日/March 13-15, 2019




Christina Laffin (UBC, PhD Columbia), Torquil Duthie (UCLA, PhD Columbia), Amy Stanley (Northwestern, PhD Harvard)


Julia Bullock (Emory University), Julia Clark (UCLA), Rebecca Copeland (Washington University in St. Louis), Kazue Harada (Miami University), Gergana Ivanova (U. Cincinatti), Joshua Mostow (UBC), Otilia Milutin (Middlebury College), Sharalyn Orbaugh (UBC), Rajyashree Pandey (Goldsmiths College), Gaye Rowley (Waseda University), Grace Ting (Waseda University), Yurika Wakamatsu (Occidental College), Takeshi Watanabe (Wesleyan College), Hitomi Yoshio (Waseda University).


1st day (Wednesday, March 13)

10:00-12:00Graduate student roundtable: Gender and Ethnicity in Japanese Academia


3:00-5:10 Welcome and Presentations by Conference Organizers


3:10-3:50 Christina Laffin (UBC)


3:50-4:30 Torquil Duthie (UCLA)


4:30-5:10 Amy Stanley (Northwestern University)


6:00-8:00 Reception


2nd day (Thursday, March 14)

9:30-9:40 Opening remarks


9:40-10:10 Otilia Milutin (Middlebury College)


10:10-10:40 Takeshi Watanabe (Wesleyan College)


10:40-11:10 Rajyashree Pandey (Goldsmiths, U. of London)


11:10-11:30 Coffee break


11:30-12:15 Discussion


12:15-1:30 Lunch


1:30-2:00 Joshua Mostow (UBC)


2:00-2:30 Gergana Ivanova (University of Cincinatti)


2:30-2:45 Coffee break


2:45-3:15 Discussion


3:15-3:45 Gaye Rowley (Waseda University)


3:45-4:15 Yurika Wakamatsu (Occidental College)


4:15-5:00 Discussion


6:00-8:00 Dinner


3rd day (Friday, March 15)

9:30-10:00 Rebecca Copeland (WUSTL)


10-10:30 Sharalyn Orbaugh (UBC)


10:30-11 Hitomi Yoshio (Waseda University)


11-11:15 Coffee break


11:15-12:00 Discussion


12:00-1:00 Lunch


1:00-1:30 Julia Clark (UCLA)


1:30-2:00 Julia Bullock (Emory University)


2:00-2:15 Coffee break


2:15-2:45 Discussion


2:45-3:15 Grace Ting (Waseda University)


3:15-3:45 Kazue Harada (Miami University)


3:45-4:30 Discussion


4:30 Closing remarks

End of Symposium


from the organizers

Dear Colleagues,


UCLA and Waseda University are pleased to announce a limited number of SUBSIDIES to cover most or all of the cost of attending a major international symposium titled “THE WOMAN IN THE STORY: FEMALE PROTAGONISM IN JAPANESE NARRATIVES”to be held at UCLA on March 13-15, 2019. Thanks to generous support from the Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities, subsidies are available for advanced PhD students and junior scholars whose research relates closely to the theme of the symposium, regardless of their affiliation or place of origin. Furthermore, thanks to generous support from the Japan Foundation, some subsidies have also been set aside for Japanese-studies scholars who are either from Southeast Asia or based at a Southeast Asian academic institution.


The fourth in a series of annual symposia sponsored by the Yanai Initiative, the symposium will take place over three days, beginning on Wednesday March 13 with a roundtable for graduate students in the morning and three presentations by the organizers in the afternoon. Thursday March 14 will feature presentations by scholars of the premodern period, and Friday March 15 will be dedicated to presentations by scholars of modern and contemporary Japan. The symposium will be preceded by an audit of the current state of Japanese Studies, and a series of interviews of foundational women researchers of Japan that will at a future date be made publicly available.


Advanced PhD students and junior scholars whose research is closely tied to the theme of the symposium are encouraged to submit a CV and a brief description (250-300 words) of their research by January 28 to Tiffany Liu, Front Office Coordinator in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA ( Students and scholars who are either from Southeast Asia or based at a Southeast Asian institution should submit their applications by January 22 in order to allow time for visa applications if necessary.


See below [掲載者注:本頁では上部に掲載] for the symposium statement and a tentative schedule.


Sincerely yours,
Christina Laffin
Torquil Duthie