Rethinking Gender in The Tale of Genji

Pandey, Rajyashree. 2019. Rethinking Gender in The Tale of Genji. In: James McMullen, ed. Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji: Philosophical Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 227-256. ISBN 9780190654979 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The study of gender is now seen as central to our understanding of The Tale of Genji. Scholars have focused on representations of amorous relations in the text to highlight women’s suffering, as well as their struggle for autonomy and their agency. This essay argues that categories such as women, sex, gender, and agency are historically and culturally variable and therefore cannot be treated as transhistorical and universal categories. It seeks to make visible the cultural variability of gender in the Genji by arguing that women do not uniformly constitute a self-evident and pre-given category, that gender is performative, and thus how it is performed—what constitutes being a woman—is itself shaped by class and status, and that modern liberal conceptions of agency are inadequate for understanding the Buddhist world of the text.

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Book Section

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gender, agency, body, sex, woman, nunhood, resistance, Buddhism, waka, genre

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20 June 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

13 Aug 2019 14:38

Last Modified:

20 Jun 2021 01:26


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