AuthorAnghel, Isabella Maria
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe definition of femininity has differed among cultures throughout history. One aspect of proper behavior described in literature written in, or based on, the Japanese Heian period (794—1185) is the subversion of female autonomy with respect to their husbands. Akutagawa Ryūnosuke's short story, “In a Grove” (1922) and Kurosawa Akira's 1951 film Rashōmon, both set in Heian Japan, are influential for the depiction of multiple viewpoints of the same event, which greatly affects the main female character, Masago's, complicated femininity. Reconsidering the Heian depictions of expected femininity, I propose my own definition of the grotesque feminine as the nature of the female sexuality, which is at once abject and repellent yet maintains a seductive quality, thus being the object of both desire and disgust. Utilizing the frameworks of the Bakhtinian concept of carnivalesque, Julia Kristeva's abjection, and the prohibition against looking (miru na no kinshi), I explore how Masago is depicted as a grotesque feminine character despite her subservient and attractive representation. After applying the characteristics of the abject to Masago’s character, I then consider how the theme of multiple interpretations of the same event contributes to the grotesque gaze against Masago to solidify her position within the grotesque feminine.
Degree ProgramEast Asian Studies